Fishinghawk officially out of Tribal Council race
TAHLEQUAH – With a May 31 deadline elapsed, Jodie Fishinghawk remained disqualified from the Dist. 8 Tribal Council race in the Cherokee Nation’s June 1 general election.
Under CN election laws, Fishinghawk was entitled to appeal to the Supreme Court the Election Commission’s decision that disqualified the former tribal councilor. She served as a CN legislator from 2007-15.
The remaining Dist. 8 candidates are Ralph F. Keen II and incumbent Shawn Crittenden.
Fishinghawk was removed from the council race on May 23 amid accusations of forging signatures on voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests, and enlisting the help of an accomplice. The EC voted unanimously to disqualify Fishinghawk after hearing from her and her counsel, as well as Attorney General Todd Hembree.
During the May 23 hearing, Fishinghawk argued that many in her family wished to register and vote for her, and gave her permission to have the forms sent to a single address where she could fill out the pertinent information and apply signatures for them.
She also argued that her actions were in no way intended to deceive the commission or gather fraudulent votes. Fishinghawk said all voters were eligible and gave her permission to fill out registrations or ballots on their behalf.
Hembree said Fishinghawk had no authority to sign for another voter on EC forms, even if she received permission. He asked whether she had “power of attorney or guardianship” over several people whose names appeared on forms Fishinghawk said she signed.
In its conclusions, the EC stated it is charged with the duties of voter registration and processing absentee ballot requests, and that candidates who interfere with those duties can be subject to hearings and disqualification.
The EC findings included the dropping off of voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests by a person on three occasions between April 10-19, all bearing the names of CN citizens, and that voter registration forms were turned in for three members of one family and four other citizens despite none of them recalling completing or signing forms.
Four of Hembree’s witnesses, all Stilwell residents, told the commission that voter registration forms had been requested in their names without their knowledge. They also said they did not know who had requested the forms and signed their names. The EC concluded that each witness “demonstrates that Fishinghawk directly interfered or attempted to interfere with the Commission’s prescribed duty,” with the four representing “a fraudulent voter registration from executed on behalf” of each.
“Jodie Fishinghawk, a candidate for the District 8 Tribal Council seat and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, has violated Section 38(A) of the Cherokee Nation’s election law by both directly and indirectly interfering and attempting to interfere with the Commission’s prescribed duty to register voters and process absentee ballot requests through forging voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests,” the EC wrote. “She is therefore subject to disqualification by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission.”
Fishinghawk was given five business days to appeal the EC decision to the Supreme Court.