Cherokee Nation Election Commission tables FOIA request form changes

Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/02/2017 04:00 PM
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The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission tables an agenda item that proposed possible changes to its Freedom of Information Act Request for Public Information form during its Sept. 27 special meeting. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Sept. 27 special meeting, the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission voted to table possible changes to its Information Request Form or Freedom of Information Act Request for Public Information form.

EC attorney Harvey Chaffin said he had questions he wanted answered from Attorney General Todd Hembree before the commission moved forward with the changes.

“…the statute, as you’re aware of probably now, (Cherokee Nation Election Law) Section 25 says, ‘subject to the provisions of the Cherokee Nation Freedom of Information Act.’ I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think it means that the voter list are subject to that act then…that other documents are only subject to court subpoena and not the act,” he said. “I talked with the AG again this morning, told him about that provision and asked him to look at it. He said he would…so I would suggest that we table this until we can talk with the AG again. I see the form here that you all have prepared, and I do like this form better than the one we were using previously.”

Commissioner Carolyn Allen said she believes the FOIA form the commission has used follows what Section 25 states. “To me it does follow what the law says in Section 25. The law also says that, ‘the Election Commission may charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of duplication of the voter list.’ So that’s what we’re currently using, and I believe that, personally, it does follow what the law says.”

Section 25 of the CN Election Law states, “the most recent voter list shall be made available to all citizens of the Cherokee Nation, subject to the provisions of the Cherokee Nation Freedom of Information Act. The voter list shall be made available on paper, computer diskette, gummed labels, electronically, or any other method available. The Election Commission may charge a nominal fee to cover the costs of duplications of the voter list, provided that the voter list shall be subject to inspection free of charge during the business hours of the Election Commission.”

Allen said as for changes to the form, EC clerk Kendall Bishop created samples to view.

“The one that’s in the middle is just a form that we change the top of the heading from the FOIA request to this heading that you see here and nothing else was changed on the page. They would still have to fill out a form. They would still provide their card, and they would still be charged the amount that we approved for documents they’ve obtained,” she said.

She said the sample also shows a change that would “fit the description more of what people might be purchasing.”

“It’s a little more detailed. It included the district, what are you asking for, are you asking for financial information, are you asking for a voter list or voter history,” she said. “It just specifies a little more clearly what they are trying to obtain from us.”

Allen made the motion to table the agenda item until commissioners hear from Hembree.

“I don’t have a problem tabling it, but to me I believe we are still within the law of what we’re doing currently based on what this law says,” she said. “I would just suggest if we have calls on this regarding this or if anyone has a concern or issue about this again that we just refer to Subsection 25 of the law until the AG gives us any further information.”


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