Law | National | Politics

Navajo Nation voters seek restoration of polling sites in Utah

The House on Fire Ruin is an ancestral tribal village located in San Juan County, Utah. Photo by John Fowler

Members of the Navajo Nation are asking a federal judge to restore in-person polling places in San Juan County in Utah.

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and several tribal members filed the lawsuit in February. They say the county's decision to close all polling places and require voting by mail harms their rights.

"A lot of Navajos don't understand the mail-in ballot," Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents communities in Utah, told the Associated Press. "They would rather go to a polling place. That's what they're accustomed to, and they want that back."

The Navajo plaintiffs were in court on Wednesday afternoon for a hearing on their motion for an injunction to restore in-person polling sites and staff them with bilingual interpreters, the AP reported. A decision hadn't been issued either way as of 3:30pm Mountain.

Native Americans have represented a majority and near-majority of the population in the county. Yet they have only been able to elect one of their own to the county commission because non-Indians have historically controlled the political process.

In a different case that was filed by the Navajo Nation, a federal judge ordered the county to redraw its voting map because Native voters were illegally packed into one district. The county has three districts.

Read More on the Story:
Navajos ask federal judge to restore polling places in Utah (AP 9/21)

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Navajo citizens sue county in Utah for making it difficult to vote (03/02)
Navajo Nation wins decision over voting districts in Utah county (02/26)