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FARMINGTON — Navajo voters in five chapters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in a special election that will select a new delegate on the Navajo Nation Council.

Thirteen candidates are vying for the seat to represent the Bahastl'ah, Coyote Canyon, Mexican Springs, Naschitti and Tohatchi chapters.

The position became vacant when the Navajo Election Administration removed former Delegate Mel R. Begay in April, after a jury found him guilty in March of 10 counts of misusing a financial assistance program designed to help tribal members.

Begay was sentenced in May to three years in jail and $33,400 in restitution. He was also sentenced to one year of probation and 1,000 hours of community service, beginning in May 2019.

The candidates running for the seat include Brent A. Detsoi and Anthony K. Howard of Bahastl'ah Chapter; Theresa A. Becenti-Aguilar, Ansley L. Curley, Harrison Plummer and Tom Ranger of Coyote Canyon Chapter; Karen E. Bedonie and Bob Begaye of Mexican Springs Chapter; Steven Begay and Willis Nez of Naschitti Chapter; and Edison A. Begay Jr., Elvis Bitsilly and Nathan L. Notah of Tohatchi Chapter.

Each of the five chapter precincts will be open for voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the election administration.

The candidate with the most votes from all of the chapters combined will be declared the winner, the election administration has stated.

Under the tribal election code, the new delegate will be sworn in and assume the office 10 days after the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors certifies the results of the election or at the conclusion of any disputes concerning the election.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.

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