LAWTON - Absentee ballots allowed Comanche Nation Chairman Wallace Coffey to keep his job in a tight election Saturday.
Coffey defeated former tribal administrator Michael Burgess, 1,188 (51.1 percent) to 1,136 (48.9 percent).
Absentee voting accounted for roughly half of all ballots cast. Coffey received 92 more mailed ballots and 80 more in-person absentee votes than Burgess, according to the tribal election board.
An election board official said the total number of absentee votes wasn't unusual.
Burgess said he will protest the election because Coffey appointed five new election board members in January without approval of the entire business committee. That committee named the board members temporarily, but Coffey later made the appointments permanent, Burgess claims. He said tribal law requires the full body's consent.
Coffey fired Burgess during the campaign. Burgess is appealing his dismissal, claiming he was an elected official whom Coffey had no authority to fire.
In the race for vice chairman, incumbent Darrell Bread beat challenger Willie Nelson, 1,175 (50.9 percent) to 1,135 (49.1 percent). Nelson received slightly more absentee votes than Bread.