Navajo Court reverses decision in Platero challenge

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation Supreme Court, in a memorandum issued Jan. 3, reversed the decision by the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) that invalidated the unofficial general election results for the Alamo chapter and ordered the Navajo Election Administration to immediately certify the election results.

Council Delegate Lawrence Platero, who lost the general election by 153 votes, challenged the results because 23 Alamo Chapter voters did not vote because of a ballot shortage that occurred at 6:47 p.m. at the Alamo chapter, 13 minutes before the polls officially closed. Although the names of the 23 individuals waiting in line were taken down, these individuals were not subsequently given the opportunity to vote.

The Court stated that it did not condone the disenfranchisement of the right of any voter to vote. However, the burden was on Platero to prove that the election results would have been different if not for the ballot shortage at Alamo. The number of individuals who did not vote, however, was not numerically significant to impact the outcome of the election.

Platero had additionally asserted that the Alamo officials' hand tally of the ballots when the machine ran out of tally tape was not in compliance with proper procedure. However, polling officials testified that a hand count was required under the Election Code.

On Dec. 28, the Supreme Court also reversed the OHA invalidation of the election results for Birdsprings and Tolani Lake chapters in an election challenge brought forth by Leonard Chee.

The opinion for Chee v. Navajo Election Administration, No. SC-CV-67-10, and the memorandum decision for Platero v. Navajo Election Administration, No. SC-CV-68-10, are available on the Judicial Branch of the Navajo Nation website at www.navajocourts.org.

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