Choctaw Election Results Stand as Court Dismisses Appeal
DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Constitutional Court has upheld the results of the Choctaw Nation’s July 13 general election. It includes the decision that Robert Karr be named the winner of the District 11 seat. The race for District 11 Council seat brought an appeal, hearing, and determination that has become a first for the tribe and its judicial system.
Both the Constitutional Court for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Appellate Court for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma announced their findings Aug. 1, 2019, in the case of Nellie Meashintubby vs. Robert Karr, the Choctaw Nation Election Board, Tribal Council of the Choctaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
In the Constitutional Court, the ruling went in favor of the Choctaw Nation and its co-defendants. The Appellate Court determined that it had no jurisdiction in these election matters and dismissed the case.
The Choctaw Election Ordinance lays out a process for challenging an election result, and this is the first time those steps have been taken.
Since no candidate received more than 50 percent of votes cast in the District 11 election on July 13, a runoff was declared between the two candidates that received the most votes. That included the challenger Robert Karr at 43.68 percent and incumbent Bob Pate, 28.41 percent. District 11 of the Choctaw Nation primarily encompasses Pittsburg County, including the cities of McAlester and Hartshorne.
Councilman Pate then withdrew his candidacy and asked that his name be removed from the runoff ballot. The Election Board stated a runoff election was not required. That was based on rules (Article VI, Section I of the Election Ordinance) and declared Robert Karr duly certified as the winner.
Nellie Meashintubby, who had garnered the third place in the District 11 race, filed a petition that there should be a runoff and that she should now be placed on that ballot. The rulings of the two courts eliminate the petitioner’s request.
In its final determination, the Constitutional Court said that:
- The Tribal Council is not a proper party to this proceeding and that the Court has no jurisdiction over the Tribal Council in the matter.
- The Election Ordinance does not set forth any procedure by which a candidate who came in third in the general election advances to a runoff election. Therefore, all other candidates in the general election would no longer be considered candidates in the runoff election.
The Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with close to 200,000 tribal members and 10,000 employees. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, the historic boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please go to www.choctawnation.com.