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Unofficial tally: Challenger Baker to be Cherokee Chief (Oct 11, 2011)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Cherokee Nation election commission says longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker has defeated incumbent Chad Smith in the race to lead the Oklahoma-based tribe.

Unofficial results of the special election released Tuesday showed Baker leading Smith by 1,534 votes, with only 150 challenged ballots left to be counted.

The results are expected to be certified within 48 hours. Balloting was initially conducted in June, but the vote was so close that each candidate was declared the winner twice and the tribal Supreme Court ordered another round of voting.

Recent balloting included votes from the descendants of slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee tribe, with their eligibility debated in a number of court hearings.

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