OKMULGEE — Muscogee (Creek) voters will still head back to the polls on Nov. 2 but will be facing a longer ballot than originally anticipated.
On Thursday, Election Board manager Nelson Harjo Jr. confirmed that the board has moved forward with plans for a new election as ordered by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Citing questionable ballot security, the court vacated all results from the tribe’s Sept. 21 primary election and ordered that a new election be scheduled within 60 days.
The new primary will be on Nov. 2, with absentee ballot requests due by Wednesday and new voter registration closing on Oct. 23. Absentee ballots are scheduled to go out on Oct. 14. Early walk-in voting will be available Oct. 30-31 in Eufaula, Tulsa, Okmulgee and Okemah.
“Since we are having the new primary and replacing that general election date with the redo, (elections will proceed) with all of the other dates as scheduled,” Harjo said.
The tribe’s Supreme Court vacated results of the primary after tribal Attorney General Kevin Dellinger moved to intervene in an election challenge from Lucian Tiger III.
Tiger, speaker of the National Council, finished third among the principal chief candidates, trailing top vote-getter David Hill and second-place finisher Bim Stephen Bruner by 10 votes. The top two finishers were supposed to advance to a Nov. 2 general election. Tiger, of Jenks, had requested a recount and on Friday filed a petition alleging fraud and irregularities that took aim at the inclusion of former Principal Chief George Tiger on the ballot, among other issues. The two are not related.
George Tiger pleaded guilty to a federal count of bribery, but not before his name could be removed from the ballot.
Voters who requested an absentee ballot for the now discarded Sept. 21 election will automatically receive one for both the new primary and the rescheduled general election.
Pending formal board approval and conversations with the tribe’s election vendor, the general election is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 14 for any race where no single candidate receives a majority of the votes cast. Harjo said the board is attempting to get the date finalized by the end of the week.
Along with the office of principal chief, eight National Council seats and second chief were on the original primary ballot. According to previously certified results, three National Council seats and the office of second chief were decided outright on Sept. 21, but those returns are among the ones set aside by the court’s ruling.
“The lack of control and preservation measures of absentee ballots call into question the legitimacy of the entire election,” Chief Justice Andrew Adams wrote for the four-judge majority Wednesday.