TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission has a process for in-person, early and absentee voting to ensure that all votes are accounted for in a tribal election.
When absentee ballots are mailed in, usually before Election Day, they are placed in a secured absentee ballot box located at the Tahlequah post office.
“The absentee ballots shall be removed from the post office and taken to the Election Commission Office by members of the Election Commission or their designees at the appropriate time to be verified and counted for the election,” states Title 26 Election Law Sec- tion 79.
Absentee ballots requested by voters who return them in person to the EC are referred to as walk-in absentee voting or early voting.
According to Title 26 Section 78.A, a voter who returns an ab- sentee ballot in-person, “must cast a challenged ballot to allow the Election Commission to deter- mine whether an absentee ballot was cast. In the event that a valid absentee ballot was returned by the voter, the challenged ballot will not be counted. In the event that
a valid absentee ballot was not re- turned by the voter, the challenged ballot will be counted.”
The EC will scan an absentee envelope bar code for all absentee ballots returned by mail or in-per- son and the voter will receive “Voter History” credit.
On Election Day, as voters visit their designated precincts and votes are cast they are “counted and tallied by the counting de- vice.”
According to EC officials, all ballots cast at a precinct, in-person absentee and mail-in absentee are counted and tallied by a counting device called an eScan tabulator when polls are closed.
Title 26 Election Law Section
92.B states that the EC “shall establish the number of printouts of results needed for certification purposes, the procedure for count- ing of the votes, posting of the results for the precincts, consoli- dated return of election results and posting of such results.”
According to an EC document, a “Certificate of Vote” form is provided by the EC to each pre- cinct and completed by precinct officials. It is a four-page form. Each copy is a different color and designated for a specific purpose:
• The white copy is returned to the EC office with election results;
• The pink copy is placed in the ballot transfer case marked “box 1”;
• The canary copy is posted on the precinct door at the end of the day; and
• The goldenrod copy is returned to the EC office with reports to post on the EC window for public viewing.
Other reports to ensure accuracy that are copied and placed in the minutes, for public view and in a vault with other election-related material and stored for permanent record are:
• Precinct report information, which remains unofficial until certified;
• Precinct names and districts;
• Mail-in or dropbox absentee totals and percentages;
• In-person absentee totals and percentages;
• Election Day totals and per- centages and number of voters that actually voted and percentages;
• A canvass report that contains totals for each race, candidate name and percent of voter turnout and;
• A cumulative report that contains totals per race, candidate name and all percentages of each race, which is certified by the EC in a meeting.
The EC will certify all results upon the final outcome for all elective offices and make those cer- tifications available to the public.