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Long lines, coronavirus restrictions didn't deter Election Day enthusiasm on Navajo Nation

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

SHIPROCK — Voters lined up outside the Shiprock Chapter house to cast ballots for local offices as part of the Navajo Nation Chapter General Election on Nov. 3.

Shiprock residents Henderson and Laura Joe said their wait time after 4 p.m. was not too bad and the process went smoothly.

"It was all right," Henderson Joe said adding he voted for female candidates because they might provide different leadership for the Northern Agency's largest chapter.

Laura Joe said she did the same.

A long line formed outside the Shiprock Chapter house as voters waited to vote in the Navajo Nation Chapter General Election on Nov. 3.

"In the last few years that I lived here, I've seen no changes at all," she said adding that current officials have yet to bring the new businesses they promised.

Election Day on the Navajo Nation usually has candidates campaigning to up to the last minute and sharing platforms while serving hot bowls of soup, frybread and coffee.

Due to concerns about coronavirus infections, the Navajo Election Administration and the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors implemented public health safety guidelines for voting at polling places and discouraged candidates from setting up food stands.

Voters wait in line outside the Naschitti Chapter house to cast ballots for the Navajo Nation Chapter General Election on Nov. 3 in Naschitti.

Navajo officials encouraged tribal members to vote early or by absentee ballot to void large crowds and wait times on Tuesday.

But Henderson Joe and Laura Joe said they prefer casting their ballots on Election Day because they think it ensures their votes are counted.

At Naschitti Chapter, Dollie Tsosie was among those waiting to vote because poll officials were closely monitoring the number of people allowed inside the chapter house at a time.

A poll official at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house tapes down a flyer while waiting for voters to arrive for the Navajo Nation Chapter General Election on Nov. 3 in Sheep Springs.

Components that Tsosie, 84, missed this election were talking to candidates and the social interaction that occurs at polling places, but she understood why that was not happening.

Despite the difference this year, Tsosie said she has yet to miss an election since she started voting in the 1960s.

Sheep Springs resident Corina McDonald wore an "I voted" sticker with the words written in English and the Navajo language on her shirt.

"I wanted to be counted and be accepted," McDonald said were her reasons to vote at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house.

Unofficial results from election office

Here are the unofficial results for chapters in the Northern Agency and in San Juan County. Results remain unofficial until certified by the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors. The complete list can be viewed on the Navajo Election Administration website.

• Navajo Board of Election Supervisors (agency seat)

Martha Saggboy 7,177

Wilbert Y. Mark 4,169

• Toadlena/Two Grey Hills Chapter – Ballots cast: 473

President: Kerby Johnson 408

Vice President: Andrew Dechenie 416

Secretary-Treasurer: Leonarda J. Eldridge 263, Angie Frank 202

Grazing Committee Member: Derry Lewis 448

• Tsé Alnaozt'i'í Chapter – Ballots cast: 924

President: Jeanne Haskie 581, Frank Smith 195, Tommy Tsosie 41, Wilbert Ben Lee 104

Vice President: Gerald Henderson 844

Secretary-Treasurer: Jourdan Washburn 551, Ramnita Henderson 352

Grazing Committee Member: Wilfred B. Lee Jr. 274, Alonzo Cohoe 443, Eloise Brown 191

• Tooh Haltsooí Chapter – Ballots cast: 361

Council of Naataani President: Brian T. Yazzie 255, Tommy Sandman 104

Council of Naataani Vice President: Louise Charley 248

Council of Naataani Secretary-Treasurer: Sally Ann Joe 298

Grazing Committee Member: Jimson Bryant 181, Julius L. Todacheene 171

• Shiprock Chapter – Ballots cast: 2,376

President: Matthew White 894, Nevina D. Kinlahcheeny 991, Nathaniel Ellison 464

Vice President: Richard T. Begaye 585, Debra A. Yazzie 1,345, Loretta John 393

Secretary-Treasurer: J. Kaibah Begay 1,917

Grazing Committee Member: Lander Morris 891, Donald Benally 348, Sarah A. Denetclaw-Begay 1,090

Farm Board Member: Joe Stephen Ben 797, Beatrice Redfeather 1,252, Dineh Benally 259

• Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter – Ballots cast: 326

President: Nancy A. Begay 150, Leon Spencer 173

Vice President: Juanita Dennison 80, Edison Smith 167, Perry J. Begay 76

Secretary-Treasurer: Clara Pierce 214, Elevena Begay 110

Grazing Committee Member: Tanner J. Begaye 176, Ernest Diswood 147

• Nenahnezad Chapter – Ballots cast: 569

President: Norman Cudei Begay 515

Vice President: LoJan Watson 491

Secretary-Treasurer: Shania Begay 308, Andrea "Faye" Lope 254

Grazing Committee Member: Harold Dodge 536

Farm Board Member: Tracy Raymond 461

• Upper Fruitland Chapter – Ballots cast: 681

President: Lynelle Lee 503

Vice President: Lisa Marie Byrd 499

Secretary-Treasurer: Dora A. Smith 485

Grazing Committee Member: Roxanne R. Lee 498

Farm Board Member: Albert Lee 482

• Beclabito Chapter – Ballots cast: 342

President: Melissa Kelly 203, Stephanie John 65, David L. Tom 74

Vice President: Hazel J. Sherman 201, Jerry Benally 141

Secretary-Treasurer: Larry L. Jack 95, Susie A. John 246

Grazing Committee Member: Renita T. Anderson 294

• Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter – Ballots cast: 615

President: Robert Lapahie Jr. 515

Vice President: Matthew D. Tso 366, James Pioche 230

Secretary-Treasurer: Laura J. Benally 536

Grazing Committee Member: Kenneth J. Johnson 475

Farm Board Member: Jean Jones 196, Lavone Garnenez 396

• Gadii'ahi-Tokoi Chapter – Ballots cast: 301

President: Harry Descheene Jr. 272

Vice president: Arnold Nelson 267

Secretary-Treasurer: Sylvia A. Tyler 256

Grazing Committee Member: Lucinda Lee 242

Farm Board Member: Ronney R. Dee 245

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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