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Bill pursues override of Navajo Nation primary election veto

President nixed measure on July 3

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Voters check in on Aug. 26, 2014 as they prepare to cast their ballots in the Navajo Nation primary election at the Nenahnezad Chapter House in Nenahnezad.

FARMINGTON — Delegates to the Navajo Nation Council will decide whether to override a veto that nullified a bill to cancel the tribe's primary election in August.

This year's election for the Navajo Nation will determine chapter presidents, vice presidents and secretary-treasurers, in addition to seats for alternative forms of government and memberships on grazing committees, land boards, school boards, farm boards and the election board.

During a special session on June 19, the council backed a bill to cancel the Aug. 4 primary election and conduct the general election on Nov. 3 by plurality vote, which is a system under which the winner of an election is the candidate who receives the highest number of votes.

The bill to cancel the primary election was based on a recommendation by the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors to hold only the general election due to the coronavirus and to comply with the various public health emergency orders the Navajo Department of Health has issued to address the new virus.

The approach was supported by the Navajo Election Administration, which cited concerns about conducting a safe election during the coronavirus pandemic.

Delegate Pernell Halona is sponsoring the override legislation. It was introduced four days after Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez issued his veto on July 3.

Voters line up for their ballots during the Navajo Nation primary election on Aug. 26, 2014 at the Shiprock Chapter House.

It will be eligible for consideration starting July 13, and it was assigned to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and the council, where final authority rests.

For an override to be successful, it must be approved by two-thirds vote of the 24-member council.

The election board and election administration have been grappling with how to conduct the election this year.

A previous bill to postpone the election to 2021 and extend the terms for current office holders until then was tabled for 60 days by the council.

When Legislation No. 0075-20 was tabled on April 10, a directive was made to the election board to address the postponement, and the council had until June 9 to decide its fate.

According to an "action report" attached to the legislation, the council did not act on the bill by the deadline in June, and it was deemed as "expired."

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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