Navajo Nation general election will go on as planned

Noel Lyn Smith
The Daily Times

FORT DEFIANCE, ARIZ. — The Navajo Nation's general election on Nov. 4 will happen as scheduled, and there will not be a special election for the presidency.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, members of the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors voted to have the general election proceed as planned with all of the candidates included.

The special meeting was called after the Navajo Nation Supreme Court reinstated and remanded grievances filed against presidential candidate Chris Deschene back to the tribe's Office of Hearings and Appeals.

Grievances were filed against Deschene, who is running against Joe Shirley Jr. for the presidency, because he cannot speak and understand the Navajo language fluently, a stipulation of tribal law for presidential candidates.

The high court also ordered the Office of Hearings and Appeals to hold a hearing no later than Oct. 3. A hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. Friday at the Office of Hearings and Appeals in Window Rock, Ariz.

On Tuesday, election board member Tom White Jr. made a motion to reaffirm the general election.

"I feel like we should go with the wishes of the voters," White said, of the 52,047 ballots that were cast in the Aug. 26 primary election.

White voted in favor of his motion, along with election board members Norman Begay, Harry Brown Sr. and Ruth Watson.

Election board members LeNora Y. Fulton and Frannie George opposed the motion.

Earlier in the meeting, Fulton made a substitute motion to split the general election and hold a special election for the presidency only.

She based her motion on the fact that the matters surrounding Deschene's candidacy are unresolved.

"The due process hasn't occurred for Deschene," Fulton said.

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