Judge issues orders on absentee ballots

Judge issues orders on absentee ballots
(MN File Photo} 2019 Primary Election Candidate for the office of Principal Chief Bim Stephen Bruner files an injunction prompting MCN District Court Judge Jeremy Pittman to order the preservation of absentee ballots that might arrive late. Court Stock photo

Bruner’s injunction initiates District Court orders on ballot preservation

Angel Ellis/Reporter

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) Election candidate for Principal Chief Bim Stephen Bruner filed a complaint for injunctive relief and a request for an expedited hearing along with a brief in support of the filings in reference to the absentee ballots in the 2019 election.

The MCN District Court received the filings on Oct. 31.

The documents filed in the court alleged that ‘hundreds of absentee voters’ were disenfranchised from the electoral process.

‘Bruner and his volunteers have spoken with well over 1000 voters, many of them multiple times and many of them daily to see if they received their ballots,’ the documents said.

The injunction went on to allege that conflicting information was given to voters as to what action they could take to remedy the problem.

The injunction listed affidavits from Tiffany Phillips and Eric Bruner as examples of individuals whose statements reflect, they requested but never received ballots.

The filing asked that ‘MCN Election Board receives absentee ballots for the Nov. 2 election until 11 a.m. on Nov. 9.’

It further requested that the board maintain strict and proper chain of custody of all absentee ballots throughout the protest period and certification of the results.

MCN District Court Judge Jeremy Pittman received the filing and set a hearing in the matter for Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.

In the hearing, Bruner and his attorney requested that the court order the election board to preserve the ballots that come through the mail after Nov. 2.

MCN Election Board members and Manager were present for the hearing. However, the counsel for the board was not able to attend the hearing due to health issues.

Present instead in the matter was Assistant Attorney General Kyle Haskins and Mark Thetford.

Initially, Bruner’s Counsel objected to the Attorney General’s staff involvement in the hearing.

Haskins refuted the objection saying that the Attorney General Office’s interests are to defend the laws of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, including election code.

Judge Pittman issued an order stating that the Election will retrieve absentee ballots daily from the Okmulgee Post Office from Nov. 4 through Nov. 9.

‘It is further ordered that, to preserve the integrity of the absentee ballots that are received after Nov. 2,’ each days absentee ballots shall be secured and organized separately, using separate boxes for each day’s absentee ballots received, and kept secure in a location separate from all other ballots cast during the Nov. 2, and Primary Election until further order.

The order said that the ballots received after Nov. 2, at 11 a.m., should not be counted as part of the primary election results unless the court issues additional orders.

The next hearing in this matter is set for Nov. 7 at 9 a.m. Mvskoke Media will continue to follow the topic and bring new information as it becomes available.

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3 Comments

  • Vince Lee
    November 4, 2019, 1:43 pm

    I live out in CA and had no problem with receiving and sending in my ballot per the prescribed rules. If there was a delay in receipt of ballot it would be delay from the Postal service. Not sure we had any delays. Hope this can be worked out quickly.

    REPLY
    • Brooke Wood@Vince Lee
      November 4, 2019, 3:37 pm

      I also live in California and 1 week before my ballot was due back in Oklahoma I had to call the election office and request one be overnighted. The next day the original finally arrived and two days after that the "overnighted" one arrived. The election office MUST mail absentee ballots out with sufficient time to return them!

      REPLY
      • K.D.@Brooke Wood
        November 7, 2019, 12:30 pm

        From what I heard, people (especially elders) were getting tired of Bim Bruner and his workers with their harassing phone calls. Several times a day! The workers were told that they hadn’t received a ballot just to shut them up and some didn’t even request an absentee ballot, so NO, they didn’t receive a ballot which is the truth. But BSB is using these calls in his statistics for the number of people who didn’t receive a ballot. I wonder how many people are willing to sign an affidavit stating that they didn’t receive their requested absentee ballot?

        REPLY