In a historically tight vote, incumbent Wampanoag tribal chairman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais won re-election to a second consecutive term last Sunday, but her challenger, a write-in candidate who lost by just three votes, has called for a recount.

The final tally was 78-75, with Ms. Andrews-Maltais prevailing over challenger Kevin Devine, according to unofficial results.

Tribal voters from off-Island were bused from Vineyard Haven to Aquinnah for the election Sunday. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The unofficial three-vote margin is the closest election for tribal chairman since at least 2008. As of Thursday this week, official election results had not yet been made available.

Mr. Devine told the Gazette he has requested a recount, but no information was available at press time as to whether one would take place.

In a statement that went out by email Wednesday, Ms. Andrews-Maltais said only that results remained incomplete. “I am very pleased with the outcome of our elections. Due to the tight nature of the results for the chairperson’s seat due to a write-in, we’re not completely done with our election process for chairperson,” she wrote. “I am confident in the outcome because the process by which the tribal election board runs has proven to be thorough and accurate and, to the best of my recollection, has not changed the outcome of any races in recent history. Before we can certify the votes, we need to wait and determine if there is going to be a recount challenge according to the election ordinance.” The latest publicly available tribal election ordinance, which was adopted in 2001, spells out the rules and procedures for elections, including recounts. According to that document, recounts take place on the second Sunday following the election and are conducted by the tribal election board.

Elections were held at tribal headquarters off Black Brook Road in Aquinnah on Sunday, Nov. 17, as part of a general membership meeting. Polling hours ran from noon to 5 p.m.

All tribal members over 18 with a tribal ID card are allowed to vote. Votes must be cast in person, and are tallied by an election board, overseen by tribal chief Ryan Malonson and medicine man Jason Baird.

Buses were made available at the ferry in Vineyard Haven to bring off-Island voters to tribal headquarters in Aquinnah. The vast majority of the 1,300-plus tribal members live off Island.

Despite that, turnout was low.

Mr. Devine, a retired 27-year veteran of the American army, had mounted a write-in campaign to unseat Ms. Andrews-Maltais, citing concerns with current tribal leadership and its pursuit of gaming in the town.

If the election results stand, Ms. Andrews-Maltais will serve a second three-year term. She previously served as chairman for two terms, from 2008 to 2013.

In her most recent term, Ms. Andrews-Maltais has led the tribe’s effort to build a class II gaming facility on tribal land in Aquinnah, in partnership with an Oklahoma tribe. A large swath of land was cleared last spring, but the planned bingo hall remains unbuilt as tribe and town leaders spar in court over legal issues, including permitting procedures. In her statement issued Wednesday, Ms. Andrews-Maltais concluded: “I am looking forward to finally certifying the election, so we can put it behind us and move forward. And since we are of one people, I am looking forward to us all working together for the betterment of our entire tribal family.”