Navajo Nation presidential election still on tap despite meddling

Supporters of Navajo Nation presidential candidate Russell Begaye and his running mate, Jonathan Nez. Photo from Facebook

Members of the Navajo Nation are still scheduled to go to the polls next week to choose a new president, an election official said.

The April 21 matchup between Joe Shirley Jr. and Russell Begaye is proceeding despite a lack of adequate funding. The Navajo Election Administration is short $84,000, The Farmington Daily Times reported.

Despite a lack of funds, the agency has already scheduled another election on June 9.The referendum will determine whether to amend the language requirement for presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Supporters of Navajo Nation presidential candidate Joe Shirley Jr. and his running mate, Dineh Benally. Photo from Facebook

Current law states that candidates "must fluently speak and understand Navajo." Legislation CMA-06-15, the law that authorized the election, omits the word "fluently" and states that language "ability shall be determined by the Navajo voters when he/she casts a ballot."

If voters approve the change, former presidential candidate Chris Deschene could run for the tribe's top office again. Although he came in second in the primary last year, he was disqualified because he has acknowledged that he doesn't speak Navajo "fluently" as the law requires.

Even though the election is still on track for next week, President Ben Shelly and Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates have objected to it. They believe the language referendum should occur first but the tribe's Supreme Court has said the April 21 must take place as scheduled.

Get the Story:
Election for language referendum set (The Farmington Daily Times 4/11)

Navajo Nation Supreme Court Decision:
Dale Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne v. Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and the Navajo Election Administration (February 20, 2015)

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