Early voting starts for Navajo Nation primary election

Noel Lyn Smith
The Daily Times

SHIPROCK — Early walk-in voting started on Monday for the Navajo Nation's Aug. 26 primary election.

Registered voters can vote early at any of the Navajo Election Administration's agency offices. In New Mexico, those offices are located in Shiprock and Crownpoint, and in Arizona they are in Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock.

Johnny Thompson, election administration assistant program manager, said voters may visit any agency election office to vote early, regardless of their chapter precinct.

The last day to complete the early walk-in voting process is Aug. 22.

The process for requesting an absentee ballot also started on Monday.

Thompson said voters may request an absentee ballot by filling out an absentee ballot application.

The application is available under the "Forms" tab on the election office website,, or by requesting the application by telephone from any agency election office. The absentee ballot is then mailed to the voter, Thompson said.

The filled out ballot must be received by the election administration by the time polls close at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26, he said.

There are 17 tribal presidential candidates and primary election voters will determine which candidates continue on to the Nov. 4 general election.

This year's election will also determine the Navajo Nation Council, the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and the Navajo Nation Board of Education among other offices.

Virginia Nelson, a voter registration specialist at the election office in Shiprock, said more than 30 people voted early on Monday and election office personnel were preparing to mail approximately 80 absentee ballots.

Nelson said she was "too busy" to answer additional questions, but according to the official voter participation report posted on the election administration's website, there were 48,640 ballots cast in the 2010 primary election out of 110,645 people who registered to vote. There were 9,699 ballots cast from the 21,773 registered to vote in the Northern Agency and the Eastern Agency had 11,888 ballots cast from 27,018 registered to vote.

Keanu Lee, 22, was registering to vote at the election office in Shiprock on Monday.

"I've been meaning to register to vote but I barely got around to it because I've been kind of busy with stuff," Lee said.

The Shiprock resident said he has been observing how tribal lawmakers conduct their business as well as how they've been treating the Navajo reservation compared to other reservations.

He remains unsure who to vote for but said he knows change is needed.

"I want to have this place change, not just as a tribe," Lee said. "I want to change my community too."

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.