MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 11, 2012

Keetoowah assistant chief candidate seeks recount

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A man who lost a runoff election for United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma assistant chief filed a petition Monday requesting a recount.

Joe Bunch forced a runoff with incumbent assistant chief Charles Locust in November, earning 462 votes, or 35.68 percent, to Locust’s 545 votes, or 42.08 percent. The runoff vote totals were released Dec. 3, and showed Locust winning 483 votes (51.17 percent) to Bunch’s 461 votes (48.83 percent.)

Bunch filed the recount petition, claiming the stated vote totals were incorrect because of either human error or a computer glitch.

“I’m filing this not just for me,” Bunch said. “It’s for the Keetoowah people that put their trust in the voting mechanism and the election.”

Bunch requested a hearing before the UKB election board to present proof of “mathematical calculation errors” made during recount vote tallying.

Bunch’s petition alleges he was leading Locust 455 votes to 439 before 32 Goingsnake District provisional votes and 18 Flint District provisional votes were counted. Provisional votes are votes made by people not on the voter registry. Those votes sit in limbo until each voter’s eligibility is determined.

Bunch’s petition states he received 22 of those 50 possible votes, and that Locust received 28, which would have given Bunch 477 votes to Locust’s 468.

Bunch alleges the vote counter incorrectly gave Locust 33 provisional votes from the Goingsnake District and deducted one from Bunch, which led to what Bunch said was a faulty final tally.

“The error/computer glitch or human mistake resulted in the wrong candidate being elected,” Bunch’s petition states.

Bunch also alleged two violations of voting procedures. Bunch said 105 provisional ballots were denied during the regular election, yet all 55 provisional ballots cast in the runoff were counted, a violation of Section 807 of the election code. He also alleged there were 11 polling places in the regular election and just 10 in the runoff election, “a violation of voters’ rights.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth @muskogeephoenix.com.