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Counting Begins in Cherokee Chief Election

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The Cherokee Nation Election Commission has adjourned for the evening and will reconvene Monday tomorrow at 8 a.m. to continue verifying absentee ballots. @

On Sunday morning the Cherokee Nation Election Commission began counting ballots cast during the special election for Principal Chief.

"We know this has been a long process and that our citizens are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation," said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the commission. "The Commission has developed a plan and timeline to decrease the chances of human error and provide the Cherokee people with an election in which they can have faith."

According to the Commission after all precincts, including walk-in voting, have been counted the unofficial results show Bill John Baker receiving 6,223 votes and Chad Smith receiving 4,046 votes. No absentee ballots have been counted. In the special election nearly 12,000 registered Cherokee voters requested absentee ballots.

"Although we are releasing these numbers early, it is important that Cherokee citizens and the candidates understand that this will only be a portion of the numbers," says Plumb. The Commission anticipates counting all absentee ballots and challenged ballots on Tuesday. It is anticipated that all ballots will have been counted and the unofficial results published by Wednesday.

Here is a statement from Chief Candidate Bill John Baker for Principal Chief

"We have seen the largest number of Cherokees ever going to vote, and the results show that they came to the polls overwhelmingly to see a change in leadership and move our Nation forward."

Here is a statement from{}Chief Candidate{}Chad Smith:

"With still about half the votes left to count, I'm still very confident with how this will turn out. Many of my voters, those who live inside the Cherokee Nation and those living outside our boundaries, choose to vote by mail and those ballots won't be counted until later this week. This election isn't over until the last vote is counted and the results certified."

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