MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 24, 2013

Judge upholds change in Cherokee districts


— TAHLEQUAH —A judge has ruled the Cherokee Nation can move forward with its new 15 voting districts, according to a media release.

Cherokee Nation District Court Judge Bart Fite ruled Wednesday that a vote made by the majority of Tribal Council members last July to move from five voting districts to 15 districts is constitutional.

Two separate lawsuits over redistricting were filed in court since September. Anglen, et al. vs. Cherokee Nation was filed by five tribal council members opposing the 15 districts. It was dismissed earlier this month. The plaintiffs were allowed to enter an opposition opinion for the judge to weigh in his decision.

The other lawsuit was the basis for the judge’s ruling. It was filed on behalf of the majority of tribal council members asking the judge to rule on whether its redistricting vote in July followed the legal channels within the Cherokee Nation Constitution.

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council consists of 17 elected positions with staggered four-year terms. Beginning with the 2013 election, there will be one council member serving each of the 15 districts. Currently, three members serve per district. Two at-large council seats will not change.

The new districts will start with the June 22 council elections. Nine tribal council seats are up for election this year. March 4-7 is the filing period.

Many Cherokee citizens will have new voting districts. For boundary maps: Cherokee Nation Election Commission, (918) 458-5899 or visit www.cherokee.org/OurGovernment/Commissions/Election/Default.aspx.