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8:59 am
Sun September 25, 2011

Cherokee Election Underway

Tahlequah, OK – Special election for Cherokee Nation chief begins

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Members of the Cherokee Nation are voting for a second time to select their tribe's new principal chief.

The nation held a special election Saturday after the tribal Supreme Court declared the first vote too close to call. Chad Smith, who was chief until a temporary replacement was named after June's election, is facing longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker.

Susan Plumb, chairwoman of the nation's election commission, says the tribe has received almost twice as many requests for absentee ballots this time.

Nearly 3,000 descendants of slaves once owned by Cherokee tribesmen will be allowed to vote after a settlement. Voting will be extended to Oct. 8.

The 300,000-member Cherokee tribe is Oklahoma's largest, with an annual budget of $600 million.