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Cherokees Miss Election Pact Deadline (Sep 26, 2011)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - An attorney says the Cherokee Nation missed its deadlines to inform the descendants of black slaves once owned by tribal members that they could vote in an ongoing tribal election and to send absentee ballots to some of them.

Jon Velie, an attorney for the slaves' descendants, called freedmen, says a federal judge on Monday found the tribe in contempt of court for missing a Thursday deadline to notify toughly 1,200 freedmen by mail that they could vote in the special election for chief.

He says the tribe also missed a Saturday deadline to get absentee ballots to roughly 350 freedmen who had requested them.

The election began Saturday and ends Oct. 8. A tribal official says a mechanical problem delayed the mailing and all letters were sent by Thursday.

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