Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Thu, Aug. 13

Navajo Nation Council overrides presidential veto and cancels primary election; November general election to continue

(Photo courtesy Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President)

(Photo courtesy Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation Council overrode a veto by Navajo Nation president and canceled the primary election that was scheduled for Aug. 4 citing concerns over public health and safety over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Arizona state primary election will continue as scheduled.

All candidates for what would have been the 2020 Navajo Nation primary have been forwarded to the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

The final vote to override President Jonathan Nez’s veto 16-4.

“Although the Navajo Nation Council has supported the voting rights at the state level of the Navajo People, even going as far as changing the Navajo Nation primary election date last year through Resolution No. CO-44-19 to coincide with the state of Arizona primary election to encourage voter turnout, the COVID-19 pandemic posed too great a threat to the public health of the Navajo public,” a press release from the council said.

CJN-49-20 was discussed at the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee at its June 11 regular meeting, where the Navajo Election Administration’s (NEA) primary concern was the protection of human life, first.

“Although a safe election is possible with enough time and resources, the Navajo Nation chapter primary election would require a rushed, coordinated effort during the ongoing shut-down of the Navajo Nation government,” said Rodriquez Morris, interim executive director for the Navajo Election Administration. “The shut-down already presented multiple challenges for Navajo Nation programs and local chapter governments.” Attempting a chapter election would increase the risk that COVID-19 would spread further.

“Had the Navajo Election Commission [sic] and the Navajo Nation Council consulted the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, there may have been a solution to our own election situation rather than an immediate rush to cancel our primary election,” Nez said when he vetoed the original legislation. “The rational [sic] for cancelling the Navajo primary this year will have repercussions not only for chapter elections but the state and national elections as well.”

The last day to register as a voter is now Oct. 5, and absentee voting will start the same day. The early voter deadline is Oct. 19, with the requirement that voters must be in a NEA office by 5 p.m. that day.

The last day for absentee voting is Oct. 30. The 2020 General Election will take place on Nov. 3. The new schedule also puts training for chief poll judges on Nov. 2, a day before the election.

More information can be found at the Navajo Election Administration online at www.navajoelections.navajo-nsn.gov or by calling 1-800-775-VOTE (8683).

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