Friday, September 30, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 6: Two Bulls are Better Than One

One of our readers sent us this link to this political cartoon:
Courtesy: Indian Country Today
We’re pretty sure S. John Crittenbaker is out of the tree already.  Megaprops to Marty Two Bulls, who does great work.  You should check out his web site and buy some stuff.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 5: Predictions Based on Truth (but predictions/guesses all the same)

We are kind of used to early voting, which Cherokee Nation Election Commission calls, oxymoronically, In-Person Absentee Voting.  That all happens before the election.  Today, we’ve entered the brave new world of late voting, which occurs when the rules for an election change after Election Day.  Only in the Cherokee Nation, right?

Well, there’s been a big fuss by both candidates about what this means, and if it’s fair.  Today, we’re trying to figure out how much it will matter, if at all.

We have no official numbers, but our reliable sources say the election commission was not that busy today.  Nowhere near what it was like for a typical day of early voting.  According to the Election Commission, about 1100 people voted in early voting for the September election, in four days of walk-in voting.  That’s 275 folks a day. 

So let’s guess about half that today, just to be safe: maybe 150. 

We know from the June election that Baker won the Tahlequah walk-in voting 609 to 427 (which of course is why he and Crittenden-- S. John Crittenbaker-- probably wanted it reopened after they took a close look at the turnout)
That’s basically a 60-40 split. 

A 60-40 split for 150 voters is 90 for Baker and 60 for Smith.  So, if Baker gains 30 votes a day on Smith, for five days, he’ll be 150 votes closer to (or further ahead of) Smith than he was before Baker asked for the rules to change.  That’s not an insignificant number, but it’s hardly earth-shattering.  

If Baker does gain 150 votes here, how many does he really gain overall?  Because while his plan was only to allow Cherokees in Oklahoma to vote, the election commission said that to be fair to all Cherokees, absentee ballots could be turned in late too.  And those tend to favor Smith.  Using the original count numbers, Smith got about 56% of mail in ballots, to Bakers 44%. 

So for every 100 late absentee ballots that come in, Smith would stand to gain 12 votes on Baker.  Let’s just guess and say 200 total come in.  So Smith nets 24, and Bakers gain is down to 126 votes.  Finally, there’s the freedmen vote, but only the freedmen who haven’t already voted and aren’t already included in the 8787 voters that scared Baker on Sunday and had him asking for the rules to change.

Smith, Baker and everyone else seem to think most of those will go to Baker, but how many will that be?  We’ve heard there are 1000 or so Freedmen voters.  How many more will vote that haven’t already?  200?  300?

So here’s our guess, based on the facts at hand.  Baker nets about 150 more votes than Smith on walk-ins.  Baker nets 300 more than Smith freedmen votes that haven’t been counted.  And Smith gains 30 or so on Baker with late absentee ballots. That means Baker's maneuvering to change the election rules after the fact might gain him 120 votes or so.  The freedmen that he already has in his back pocket are another few hundred.  So a best case scenario for Baker is he picks up 420 votes from where he was on Saturday.  Is that enough to ease his fears?  Considering that the voting was so close in June, he has to be at least happier.

Keep in mind, this is all guess work, but based on the known facts that we have on hand.  Feel free to give your own guesses, but please use facts to back them up.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 4: Welcome Back, Kotter Edition

Welcome Back, Kotter Carter!

The Cherokee Nation recommended that the Election Commission bring in a third party observer to watch the special election: the Carter Center, which observed Cherokee Nation’s 1999 election and was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to advance peace and health worldwide.

Well, we could use a little health and peace around here, and after watching the election, the Carter Center people already have written a little love letter to our election commission, and we’ve got a copy thanks to the fine folks at the Tahlequah Daily Press:

“Overall, Carter Center observation teams commended the competent administration of the election by the election commission and precinct polling staff.  The disciplined conduct of this election was notable given the shifting legal parameters and the additional administrative burden placed on the election commission in the days before the election by the federal court order.”

Trust us, if you wade through the rest of the message from the Carter Center, you’ll see that just how interesting those two sentences are.  To sum it up, the outside observers think the election commission is doing okay, saying things like “Polling was well organized in most precincts,”  “Poll workers were well informed about voting procedures,” and “the feel good hit of the summer.”  Okay, maybe not the last one.

One section of particular interest might be the part about the Freedmen voting, which says:
“Despite the controversy regarding the disenfranchisement and subsequent re-enfranchisement of the Freedmen, Carter Center observers did not report any cases of Freedmen encountering obstacles in casting their ballots on the Sept. 24 election day. No distinction was made between Freedmen and other voters on the voters roll.  In an exit meeting on Sept. 25, two Freedmen organizers told Carter Center observers that they received no complaints of discriminatory behavior or actions. The considerable efforts of the election commission to respond to the demands of the federal court order are to be recognized.”

So, hopefully that will keep the freedmen, BIA and APCSJC (the people who agreed on the order) happy because the court order says the freedmen needed to votewithout intimidation and harassment. 

The Carter Center did make some recommendations, which you can read for yourself, but the biggie is: “The Carter Center mission would also suggest that the election commission undertake a more robust voter information and outreach program.”   

Thanks for the advice, Mr. Kott-Air! See you again in 12 days or so when the votes get counted, and who knows, maybe 12 years from now too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 3: Pleased to Meet You, Mr. S. John Crittenbaker

Three days after election day 2, our election rules are changing thanks to Jon Velie, APCSJC, Baker, Smith, the BIA, Judge Kennedy in Washington DC and our own beloved Cherokee Nation Election Commission. But the two biggest players seem to be the guys sharing a brain that wants to do whatever the BIA and the freedmen tell them to.  

And henceforth we shall call it... S. John Crittenbaker!

Picture Credit & Caption:
This morning, S. John Crittenbaker worked out a deal with the freedmen and the BIA saying not only should freedmen be given more days to vote because APCSJC didn’t comply with last week’s court order, but also that Cherokees would now get to walk in and vote.  Hooray for Cherokees, right?  Not so fast. 

1) APCSJC's deal didn’t extend the mail-in voting for Cherokees, so if you forgot to mail your absentee ballot, or mailed it late, too dang bad for you. 

2) Freedmen who haven’t voted by mail already, but did request an absentee ballot, will all be sent a SECOND ballot via overnight mail. 

3) If Cherokees by blood still want to vote, they better know somebody who knows somebody (or just read Cherokee Truth, but we’re sure all our readers already voted, right?), because APCSJC’s custom-made court order does NOT require any notification about extra voting days be sent to Cherokees by blood. But EVERY Freedman must be notified. And lucky for them, that’s already happened.

So while that was sinking in, the election commission met today and Smith told them he didn’t think it was fair that only Freedmen got two extra weeks to turn in their absentee ballots and that only local Cherokees who could drive to Tahlequah (and Freedmen) got to vote, not people who live far away or voted by mail. And the Election Commission agreed with Smith and changed things some more, allowing all Cherokees to turn their absentee ballots in by October 8th.

Smith and Baker both put up comments online, as did the election commission and APCSJC.

Smith pointed out that he was the guy who fought for Cherokee absentee ballots to be counted and equal notification of the extra voting days, while Baker (again) accused Smith of stealing the election the first time saying the AG and the Supreme Court were just doing Chad’s bidding. Keep in mind, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court hasn’t done anything in a month or so, and declined to make Smith Chief even after they found he had the most votes.

So the votes haven’t been counted yet and it looks like Baker is already lining up his excuses.

On that same page, APCSJC's statement seems to be just a repetition of what the order says. Towards the bottom, he does say: "As of today, the required notice to the Cherokee Freedmen has been mailed. There were never any negotiations that non-citizen Cherokee Freedmen, Cherokee Freedmen unregistered to vote, non-citizen Cherokees or Cherokees unregistered to vote were going to be allowed to vote during the Friday hearing. The Nation will continue to work through this important matter."

So, now we know what "never" happened in the negotiations. But we wonder if we'll ever know what actually DID happen when S. John Crittenbaker was making another deal with the freedmen and the BIA to change our election laws.

Election Limbo Part II, Day 2: Master Puppeteer Edition

Master Puppeteer

Well, the Cherokee Nation is back in the Tiawan News, for what that’s worth. 
It’s not a shining moment for APCSJC.  The AP is reporting that the Cherokee Nation is in contempt of court for not complying with last week’s court order.
We find out from the associated press that some of the Cherokee Nation’s punishment for APCSJC not obeying the order is…. Giving more voting dates to the freedmen.  Which only benefits Crittenden’s choice for Chief, Bill John Baker.  Just asking a simple, hypothetical question: if the punishment for not following a court order is that your political ally benefits, what kind of system is that?  Usually, you are supposed to feel bad after getting punished for violating a court order, but that’s not the vibe we’re getting here.

At the same time, we find out that Baker wants to reopen voting for “Cherokees living in Oklahoma” (which is either an intentional or unintentional middle finger pointed in the direction of out of state Cherokees), but not anyone else.  Maybe he came to the same conclusions we did after the election commission posted the turnout numbers and decided it didn’t look good.

So if Baker wants to change the election laws after the fact, who can help him?  Well, three people at least.  One is APC S. Joe Crittenden. Another is Judge Kennedy in DC.  And the third is the mysterious Jon Velie, the freedmen's lawyer.  

If an AP report is to be believed, Velie and Crittenden are asking Kennedy to give Baker what he wants.  Velie (remember, he’s the lawyer that was arguing in court last week that the Cherokee Nation should be terminated as a tribe) told the AP that the “Cherokee Nation suggested adding extra walk-in dates” for freedmen, and “Another option, which was originally promoted by the Cherokee Nation and is now endorsed by the freedmen, would allow all Cherokees to vote on the additional walk-in dates.” 

Just so our factual timeline is straight: 
Friday night: everything is hunky-dory with Baker and Crittenden--- Freedmen can vote extra times, but not Cherokees.  

Saturday: Election Day.

Sunday: Baker realizes he’s behind and asks for more time for Cherokees to vote, something he forgot to mention before the election.

Monday: Crittenden and freedmen lawyer Velie ask a federal judge to do their candidate a solid and open up voting for Cherokees, never mind what the election laws of the Cherokee Nation are.

Tuesday:  the judge may agree to give Baker what he wants.

Remember, these are SUGGESTIONS BY THE CHEROKEE NATION (APCSJC) to add extra dates for freedmen and extend the voting.  If the judge orders this, its because it’s agreed upon by all parties, and apparently the freedmen aren’t having to negotiate too hard with APCSJC, who seems to be volunteering to change our election laws before anyone (except Baker) asks.
Whatever you want to say about Baker, he appears to be a master puppeteer, with the freedmen’s lawyer and the acting principal chief doing his bidding in federal court. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 1: Can We Tell Who Won?

Since we won’t have election results to talk about until at least October 8, and we have to amuse ourselves somehow, we’ll take a look at some of the numbers that are available and try to figure out what they mean.  So, we’ll give you some cold hard truth, and then we’ll tell you what we think it might mean.  Don’t argue with the truth, but feel free to give your opinions, based on facts, for what you think happened yesterday.
First, we’ll start off using the June election as our model.  Smith won by 5 or 7 votes, depending… Baker got the most votes in the recount, during which hundreds of votes disappeared because the election commission screwed up.
And let’s not debate that… the election commission says it screwed up the recount, and the Supreme Court went back and counted them all and found the votes were there all along.
Anyway, the election commission can’t count the ballots, but they can at least tell us how many there are.  And they have.   There were 8787 ballots cast yesterday, compared to 8054 on election day in June.  So, can we tell anything by where those 733 additional ballots were cast?

In June, Baker won District 1 and District 2, Smith won districts 3 and 5 and 4 was pretty much a toss up.

According to our math, there were 13 more votes in District 1 this time around, and 122 more votes in District 2.  If these new voters vote like their neighbors did in June, Baker will get more of those votes than Smith.  In District 3 there were 276 new votes and in District 5 there were 134 new votes.  Again, it looks like these voters would be more likely to vote for Smith than Baker, and since there 275 more of those votes than in districts 1 and 2, Baker might be worried.

There are 188 new votes in District 4, which as we mentioned was a toss up, but who knows how those will end up?

Based on the walkin, from the looks of it Smith had a good day.

Also, there is the matter of the 4000 additional mail-in votes.  Smith tends to do well on those, and won them in June, so the fact that there are more of them could also be troubling Baker.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

0 Days Until the New Election: Voting, Watching and Waiting

A lot of watching and waiting left to
do in this election.

Polls are open for just a little while longer, but, as one of our readers has pointed out, even though the polls close at 7, they won’t start counting votes until October 8, or maybe later.  Why?  Because of the agreement reached by our APCSJC and then signed off on by the federal court.

FYI: This is a picture
of Bill Clinton.
Looking closely at the federal court order, it actually says that we have to “refrain from counting all ballots in the September 24, 2011 Special Election until after October 8, 2011.” Not to go all Bill Clinton on you with legal definitions (he’s the guy who saidIt depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is."), but it looks like to us that maybe we can’t even start counting votes until the stroke of midnight and October 9 starts.

And then it’s a couple of days at least to certify, and then maybe a recount (those are always fun) and an election challenge in court.  So maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a new chief by Halloween. 

Regardless, vote if you haven’t already, and if you have, keep watching and waiting.

Friday, September 23, 2011

1 Day Until the New Election: You Must Vote Tomorrow*

Cherokees get to vote for Principal Chief again tomorrow.  Aren’t we lucky?  But we want to make this perfectly clear:  Cherokees by blood HAVE to vote tomorrow.  There’s been some confusion, even on this page, saying that walk-in voting has been extended, but that’s only the case for freedmen, because of the federal court order.

Also, if you got an absentee ballot, you have to get it to Tahlequah tomorrow as well, unless you are a freedman, because they have until October 8 to return theirs.  

The point being, if you vote tomorrow, it will count.  If you don’t vote tomorrow, you might be screwed, unless you have a court order that applies to you.  

No matter who you want for chief, please vote tomorrow.  This means you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2 Days Until the New Election: Baker Finance Reports

As we’ve already mentioned, Smith and Baker have combined to make this a million dollar campaign.  We’ve already looked at Smith’s latest finance report, so today it’s Baker’s turn.
In the last reporting period, Baker raised $150,330, and had expenditures by others for another $2521.97 for a fundraising total of $152,851.97.  Notable Baker contributors include former Chief Joe Byrd at $2000, former Governor David Walters at $1000 and former CNI boss Bryan Collins.  By our quick count, he had 285 contributors with an average donation of $536.32. 
His biggest expenses were $62,337.68 for printing, $41,260 for mailing and $29,665 for miscellaneous, which includes money to a DC firm for phone calls.
A new employee seems to be Mrs. Chuck Hoskin Jr., but of course it could be some other January Hoskin.   
Baker’s total expenditures for the reporting period, which for him ended on the 15th, were $150,325.53, leaving him $63,702.69 to spend over the last nine days of the campaign.  Which works out to about $7,000 day.  Assuming he doesn’t raise/loan himself another penny.  

Reminder:  Go Vote Saturday.