FARMINGTON — While the polls are bustling nationwide, the same can be said for polls on the Navajo Nation, especially those in Shiprock.

Chapter elections will coincide with the general election Nov. 6 across the five Navajo Nation agencies, or divided areas of the Nation.

Primary elections, which are nonpartisan on the Navajo Nation, were held Aug. 28 for all 110 chapters. About one-third of registered voters had their say, though Navajo Nation and chapter officials are hoping for a more impressive turnout on Tuesday.

Not only do voters determine their elected officials, but the number of voters helps to determine the amount of funding from the Navajo Nation.

The Shiprock Chapter, the largest chapter on the Navajo Nation, had a lower-than-average turnout during the primary election, about 27 percent. It may draw more since the head-to-head presidential race is expected to be a nail-biter.

"Any time I go into an election, I expect to win," said Duane "Chili" Yazzie, former Shiprock Chapter president who is running again for the same position.

Yazzie, a 62-year-old farmer, is running against William Lee, current chapter president. Lee defeated Yazzie in 2008 by 68 votes. More than 2,000 cast their ballots.

"It's a serious situation," Yazzie said on Friday.

Both have had their ups and downs. Yazzie, who was president in 2000 and was reelected in 2004, was held partially accountable for a bad audit conducted in 2008 and another in 2011.


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So too, though, was Lee.

The 2008 audit reported that the chapter's funds were poorly managed, and it made 19 recommendations, of which one was followed by the chapter in the years since.

The 2008 audit was poor because the chapter lacked communication and accountability among only some of the administration at the time, Yazzie said, but the administration could not be held accountable for the latter 2011 audit, which Yazzie's administration had nothing to do with.

The latter audit, Yazzie said, was worse.

The 2011 audit found a $18,181 check to youth employment program missing in 2010 and also the purchase of an $8,500 motorcycle for Lee's personal use, according to previous reports from The Daily Times. He later repaid the money and forfeited a stipend from the chapter for one month.

Yazzie, who has been in and out of politics since 1975, also has served as a secretary and treasurer for the Shiprock Chapter, from 1976 to 1980. He served as a Navajo Nation Council delegate for two terms as well, from 1986 to 1992.

He plans to work to build infrastructure and revive agricultural lands in the area if elected, Yazzie said Friday.

Lee was not available for comment Friday.

The primaries forecast a lead for Yazzie, who took 62 percent of the vote. Lee, who came in second, took slightly more than 16 percent.

Jerry Jay Todacheene and Harrison Todacheene also ran for president but did not make it past the primary election.

In the running for chapter vice president are Donald Benally, current vice president, and Tommie Yazzie, who just barely made it past the primaries.

Tommie is unrelated to Chili Yazzie.

Benally received about 41 percent of the vote, and Tommie Yazzie about 25.

Milfred F. Mitchell and J. "Kaibah" Begay are vying for the chapter secretary-treasurer position, with Begay having earned about 68 percent of the votes in the primary election.

Virgil Kirk Jr. and Joe Ben Jr. will contend for a seat on the farm board. Ben won more than 55 percent of the vote in the primary election, and Kirk about 45.

Robert Hayes is running unopposed for grazing committee in Shiprock.