Election date set for Navajo Nation presidency

Noel Lyn Smith
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation presidential election between candidates Joe Shirley Jr. and Russell Begaye will be April 21.

The date was announced on Monday in a press release from the Navajo Nation Council's Office of the Speaker.

In addition to the presidency, voters will also determine the six vacancies on the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors.

Edison Wauneka, executive director of the election administration, said the presidential election would have been scheduled earlier, but the Navajo Nation Supreme Court ordered the election to fill the vacancies on the election board to coincide with the presidential election.

The election administration also announced an extension for filing candidacy papers for the vacant election board positions in the Chinle, Eastern and Western agencies. The filing period closes on March 9.

According to the press release, voter registration will close and absentee ballots will become available by request on March 23.

Applications for absentee ballots are due by April 6.

The last day for walk-in absentee voting is April 17.

The filing deadline for grievances is May 1, and election results will be certified May 4.

The oath of office will be administered for the presidency and vice presidency on May 12.

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the election administration to hold the presidential election between Shirley and Begaye as soon as possible.

"It feels good now that we set a date," Wauneka said, adding that the concern now turns to funding the election.

A resolution that would have set new dates for a presidential run-off election and general election allocated $317,891 for a new election. On Dec. 30, the council passed that resolution, along with one that would have pardoned and reinstated the nine members of the election board. But the Supreme Court nullified both of those resolutions in its opinion on Friday.

Because the resolution containing the supplemental funding was nullified, the election administration is again searching for money to cover the cost of another election, Wauneka said.

Delegate Dwight Witherspoon, who represents the Forest Lake, Hardrock, Kíts'íílí, Piñon and Whippoorwill chapters in Arizona, is sponsoring a bill to provide funding for the election.

In a memorandum to the council, Speaker LoRenzo Bates announced there will be a special session on March 13 to address Witherspoon's bill.

The special session was scheduled after 16 delegates signed a petition calling to convene to consider Witherspoon's bill, as well as another bill to approve using general funds to operate the council's legislative district assistants program.

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.