Election for principal chief set for Sept. 24
Principal Chief Chad Smith, left, discusses a topic during the Cherokee Phoenix principal chief debate earlier this year as Smith's challenger, Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker, watches. On July 29, Smith set Sept. 24 as the date for the rescheduled principal chief election. PHOENIX ARCHIVE
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Principal Chief Chad Smith has set Sept. 24 as the date for the Cherokee Nation’s rescheduled principal chief election.
The election is a result of a July 21 order from the tribe’s Supreme Court, which found that it was impossible to determine the winner of the June 25 general election with “mathematical certainty.”
Smith said the CN Election Commission recommended the date to best allow tribal citizens to fully participate in the election.
“The commission thought that gave enough time to notify our citizens of the dates important to the election, including a period of time for voters to request absentee ballots,” he said.
Smith said Sept. 24 also gives the EC and Tribal Council a chance to address election-related issues while still having an election quickly.
Smith’s challenger, Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker, said he’s pleased that Smith has “finally decided to heed the will of the Cherokee people and set a date for the new election.”
“As Smith’s own running mate Chris Soap said just the other day, the Cherokee people have decided to take our Nation in a ‘different direction,’” Baker said.
Smith’s term as principal chief expires Aug. 14, which is the constitutionally mandated inauguration day for CN elected officials. Deputy Chief-elect Joe Crittenden will take his oath of office that day and assume the duties of principal chief until a new chief is sworn in after the rescheduled election.
According to a July 28 opinion from the tribe’s attorney general, all CN citizens who were registered to vote in the general and runoff elections will be eligible to vote Sept. 24.
The opinion states that tribal election law ends voter registration for an election year on March 31 of that year. So citizens who registered to vote after that deadline won’t be eligible to vote in the rescheduled election.
The opinion also states that the rescheduled election is part of the same election cycle as the general and runoff votes. Therefore, any donor who donated $5,000 in monetary or in-kind donations to a candidate cannot donate further to that same candidate.
According to the EC, registered voters who may not be able to vote in person for the rescheduled election can request an absentee ballot from Aug. 1-12. The EC also states that all voters who requested an absentee ballot in the general and runoff elections will automatically be sent a ballot for the Sept. 24 election and will not need to request a ballot again.
Absentee ballots will be mailed Aug. 29-30. Early walk-in voting is slated for Sept. 17 and 20-22 at the Election Services Office located at 2116 S. Bald Hill Road in Tahlequah.
For more information, call the EC at 918-458-5899 or toll free at 1-800-353-2895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961