Early voting starts for April 21 Navajo Nation special election

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Early walk-in voting has started on the Navajo Nation for the April 21 special election.

Virginia Nelson, a voter registration specialist at the Navajo Election Administration office in Shiprock, said the office received ballots for all the 110 chapters on Wednesday, and several people voted on Thursday.

The ballot includes former president Joe Shirley Jr. and his running mate Dineh Benally, and former Navajo Nation Council delegate Russell Begaye and his running mate Jonathan Nez in the presidential race.

Also listed on the ballot are candidates Sammy Ahkeah and William Lee for the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors.

The ballot for the Red Valley Chapter lists the presidential and election board candidates, as well as positions for the school board and farm board, Nelson said.

Voters can cast ballots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the election office in Shiprock.

The office is closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The last day to complete the early walk-in voting process is April 17.

Voters who requested an absentee ballot by filling out an absentee ballot application will receive their ballots as soon as the election office receives postage, Nelson said.

"Once we receive postage, those will go out in the mail," she said.

Absentee ballots must be delivered to the election office by April 21.

Starting the early walk-in voting process is another step in a presidential race that has not followed the usual course. The process has featured multiple requests for rulings by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

In October, presidential candidate Chris Deschene was disqualified for refusing to take a fluency test and was replaced by Begaye, who finished third in the Aug. 26 primary election.

Begaye also faced a challenge to his candidacy qualifications, but his eligibility was upheld by the tribe's Office of Hearings and Appeals.

On March 20, the Supreme Court ordered the April 21 special election to proceed as planned by the election administration.

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