Nez rejects supplemental funding request for 2020 Navajo general election

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has denied a supplemental funding request to the Navajo Election Administration to help chapter governments cover costs for the general election.

Nez used the line-item veto to block the $447,166 supplemental appropriation from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance, which the Navajo Nation Council approved during the summer session last month.

The amount would have provided compensation for poll officials and paid for supplies, ballot printing, postage to mail absentee ballots and other costs.

"After years of primary elections, general elections and special elections it would seem an appropriate funding mechanism would be in place now. But year after year the election funding plans become an issue when it should not, because we know when elections take place," Nez wrote in the Aug. 7 veto message to Speaker Seth Damon.

The president added that the election office should have experienced savings this year since the primary election was canceled over concerns about the coronavirus.

Vicki Bedoni casts her general election ballot on Nov. 8, 2016 at the Upper Fruitland Chapter house.

"The budget savings for the election office were not identified as a source of funding or other legislative offices budget savings that could help the election office. These alternatives should be considered before going to the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance," Nez wrote.

Rodriquez Morris, interim executive director of the election office, called the veto "a little bump in the road" during an Aug. 10 telephone interview.

"It doesn't stop any plans. We are proceeding forward with the Nov. 3, 2020 election. I do feel very positive that we have already identified another funding source," he said.

Aug. 10 was the last day for candidates to file paperwork to run in the general election for chapter governments, boards and other offices.

The deadline to register to vote in the general election is Oct. 5, according to Morris.

Voters may request absentee ballots beginning on Oct. 5. That same day, early voting will start at the agency election offices in Shiprock and Crownpoint, and in Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock in Arizona. Early voting will close on Oct. 30.

The absentee ballot application is online under the "forms" tab on the election administration website, navajoelections.navajo-nsn.gov.

"We're going to be putting forward a campaign and encouraging more absentee ballots for individuals who can because that's going to be the safest way for individuals to cast their ballots this year," Morris said.

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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At left, election officials Jamie Joe, Ronda Johnson and Felencia Belin look over the voter registration list on Nov. 8, 2016 during the Navajo Nation general election at the Upper Fruitland Chapter house.