The Carter Center Will Not Observe Cherokee Nation Elections

Charlie Soap, who is running for principal chief, wanted The Carter Center to observe the election this Saturday.

Charlie Soap, who is running for principal chief, wanted The Carter Center to observe the election this Saturday.

TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Election Commission has decided not to extend an invitation to The Carter Center to observe the election being held this Saturday, June 27, when Cherokee citizens will cast their votes for principal chief and other elected positions.

The Carter Center was informed of the decision on June 16, 2015 even though The Carter Center was asked to observe this election. The name of individual(s) who requested the oversight by The Carter Center was not disclosed to the media.

The Carter Center, began by former President Jimmy Carter, has observed some 100 national elections to help ensure that the results are accurate. While most of its work has been done internationally in election observation, The Carter Center has observed the two elections on the Cherokee Nation in the past in 1999 and 2011.

“We did not see the need in having them right now,” stated Bill Horton, chair of the Cherokee Election Commission, to Native News Online on Monday.

Horton said circumstances are different this election cycle because the Cherokee Nation is conducting its own election versus outsourcing the election process as was done four years ago. He further explained that the Cherokee Nation purchased voting machines that are same models as used by the State of Oklahoma.

“I really just want the elections to be fair and honest. There may be rumors…some may be valid. We wanted The Carter Center to come in to observe,” said Charlie Soap, who is a candidate for principal chief in Saturday’s election. “It is an embarrassment to our people if things are not done right,” Soap continued.

“While the Center regrets this news, it respects the commission’s decision and will not deploy an observer team for the elections. The 2015 elections will be an important test for the Cherokee Nation’s democratic institutions. The Carter Center urges tribal officials to ensure a transparent and credible election process and extends its best wishes to the citizens of the Cherokee Nation for successful elections” stated The Carter Center in a news released distributed late last week.


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