By TEDDYE SNELL
Joe Bunch, candidate for assistant chief in the recent United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma election, has filed a challenge with the tribe’s election commission.
Bunch faced incumbent Charles Locust Dec. 3 in a runoff election for the post, and unofficial results show Locust winning 483 of the 949 ballots cast. Bunch had until 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 10 to file the challenge before results became official.
Bunch is asserting a number of errors affected the outcome of the election.
“The election board designee ... erred in the designation of the votes cast to the respective candidates, or a computer glitch inverted the candidates’ names on the vote totals and incorrectly listed more votes to candidate Charles Locust,” states the challenge document. “The votes were listed as Joe Bunch receiving 455 ballots and Charles Locust receiving 439 ballots just prior to the provisional ballots being counted.”
According to the document, Bunch asserts mistakes were made when tallying provisional ballots.
Bunch indicated he received 15 votes via provisional ballot from the Goingsnake District and seven from the Flint District, while Locust earned 17 and 11, respectively.
“By adding all of Joe Bunch’s votes – 455, 15, and seven – he received a total of 477,” states the document. “By adding all of Charles Locust votes – 439, 17 and 11 – he received a total of 467.”
“With the potential of positive change and re-establishing integrity to the [UKB] assistant chief office, I believe it is imperative to seek answers to the controversy swirling around the competing poll numbers,” said Bunch in a written statement. “The Keetoowah tribal members deserve accountability of the questionable and inconclusive election results.”
Bunch is requesting a review of all 2012 election materials, which includes runoff election materials, ballots, tally sheet totals and conclusions, in accordance with UKB election code. He asks the review take place “at a time convenient to all parties.” Bunch has also requested a hearing with the UKB Election Commission to present his proof, as well as a hand count of ballots by the election board in front of ballot watchers or a new election.