Guest column: Navajo Nation holds voting rights hearing in Tuba City April 25 aiming to strengthen and protect Navajo voting rights

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice is collaborating with the Native American Rights Fund to host a Native Nations Voting Rights Hearing in Tuba City April 25, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Tonaneesdizi Chapter House, 220 Main St., Tuba City. This is part of a larger effort by the Nation to strengthen and protect Navajo voting rights.

Elections are an important element of governance. They provide Navajo voters the opportunity to express their interests on a state and federal level. However, there is an average of an 8 percent gap in Native participation in state and federal elections. There are many reasons Navajo voters are not turning out at the polls including: voter ID laws, limited access to ballots, hostility in neighboring communities, denied translation services, and apathy in the face of racial and political gerrymandering designed to dilute or suppress the Navajo voice.

“The Navajo people place great value and dignity in upholding our voting rights” said Speaker Lorenzo Bates. “Historically and in the present times, the Navajo people have endured and overcome struggles with exercising our right to vote. This hearing allows our people the opportunity to voice these struggles and to be heard.”

“Navajo voters deserve the same opportunities to vote and express their voice in American politics that non-Natives enjoy” said Attorney General Ethel Branch. “The fact that our people do not have access to this basic human right, to choose their leaders and express their political voice, is a grave injustice. The Native Nations Voting Rights Hearings will allow our people the opportunity to lift their voices and tell their stories about barriers they have faced at the polls.”

These hearings are part of a series of hearings that have been held across Indian country. However, this is the only hearing that is being held on an Indian reservation in which individual citizens will have a chance to speak. At the end of these hearings a Master Report will be collected and presented to Congress.

More information for those who have experienced or overcome difficulties voting is available at https://www.narf.org/voting-rights/. More information about registering, attending or testifying is available at vote@narf.org or (928) 871-6210.

Navajo Nation Office of the Attorney General

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