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Cherokee Election Recount Proceeding Slowly

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Challenger Bill John Baker and incumbent chief Chad Smith await the recount of ballots in the contested election for Cherokee principal chief. Challenger Bill John Baker and incumbent chief Chad Smith await the recount of ballots in the contested election for Cherokee principal chief.

Associated Press

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- The recount in the contested Cherokee Nation principal chief's election has begun but only slow progress is being made.

The recount started at the American Indian tribe's election commission headquarters on Saturday morning, as both three-term incumbent Chief Chad Smith, longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker and their attorneys watched along with tribal Supreme Court justices.

Reporters aren't being allowed to watch the hand recount, but it's become evident it will continue into Sunday. About 15,000 ballots were cast during the June 25 election.

The tribe's Supreme Court ordered the recount at the request of Smith.

Unofficial returns the morning of June 26 showed Baker ahead by 11 votes. On June 27, the election commission certified Smith as the winner by seven votes. Baker asked for a recount, which showed him ahead by 266 votes. The total vote count was different each time.

Smith asked for a second, machine recount, but the court is allowing only a hand recount.

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