OKMULGEE — Calling the results “fatally flawed” because of the inclusion of a disqualified candidate, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Attorney General’s Office is asking for a partial do-over for the tribe’s primary election.
According to a motion to intervene filed late Monday afternoon in response to a civil challenge from principal chief candidate Lucian Tiger III, Attorney General Kevin Dellinger is requesting that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court order the tribe’s Election Board not to certify the Sept. 21 primary election results for principal chief.
The motion also calls for the court to direct the Election Board to ask Principal Chief James Floyd to call for a special election as soon as practical without George Tiger’s name on the ballot.
Despite pleading guilty to one count of bribery in federal court eight days before Election Day, Tiger, a former principal chief, finished eighth among the 10 candidates, receiving 135 votes. The tribe’s constitution bars felons from serving as principal chief.
Although Dellinger noted that the Election Board and its staff acted within the provisions of the tribe’s election law by leaving the former principal chief’s name on the ballot, the decision ultimately contaminated the results, he wrote.
“The effect of having a candidate’s name appearing upon an election ballot for Principal Chief, when they are constitutionally precluded from serving if elected, leads to spirited conjecture as to how the appearance of such name may or may not have affected a voter’s decision-making process and thus the outcome of the election,” Dellinger wrote. “This conjecture is exactly the kind of mathematical uncertainty that leads to drawing into question the legitimacy of election results.”
In addition to questions of mathematical uncertainty, Dellinger noted, leaving George Tiger’s name on the ballot potentially denied a vote to Muscogee (Creek) citizens who returned absentee ballots before the Sept. 13 plea change.
“Casting a vote for George Tiger, immediately before he became ineligible or without the knowledge of his felony conviction, denied that voter the legitimacy of his/her right to cast a ballot for an eligible candidate,” he wrote.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the principal chief’s race is not included on the certified results list published on the tribe’s website.
National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger III finished third among the principal chief candidates, trailing second place finisher Bim Stephen Bruner by 10 votes, with the top two finishers advancing to the Nov. 2 general election. Filed Friday, Lucian Tiger’s petition for fraud and irregularities took aim at the inclusion of George Tiger on the ballot, among other issues. The two are not related.
The hearing on the original complaint has been rescheduled from Friday afternoon to 2:30 p.m. Monday before Judge Jeremy Pittman.
According to the tribe’s election code, an oral decision must be handed down the same day and the written order must be filed the next day. Any appeals must be filed with the tribe’s Supreme Court within three calendar days of the oral decision.
In addition to the legal challenge, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Election Board is scheduled to start a recount at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the Mound Building at the tribal complex at the request of Lucian Tiger. The recount is closed to the public.