Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez signs revision to voter registration time period into law

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed a bill into law that amends the time period for registering to vote in tribal elections.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Edison Wauneka, alters the last day to register to vote from 30 days to 40 days before an election.

The revision also separates the deadline to register to vote for elections from the date that absentee voting starts.

The Navajo Nation Council voted 21-0 in favor of the legislation and without debate on Jan. 27. Nez signed the bill on Feb. 10.

In the president's message to Speaker Seth Damon, he mentioned that the obstacles Navajo voters face when participating in elections "have become more apparent" over the years and a major challenge is geography and travel.

"This amendment to increase the voter registration time period will ensure fair elections by allowing the Navajo Election Administration more time to adequately register voters, including absentee voters," Nez wrote.

Wauneka told the Law and Order Committee last year that having voter registration close and absentee voting start on the same day has caused problems for the election administration.

Employees need time to review voter registration applications before they are added to registration lists, he explained.

The difference of 10 days between when voter registration closes and voting by absentee ballot begins will help the election administration, he said to committee members.

The Navajo Board of Election Supervisors backed the proposal in October 2021.

The resolution issued by the board does highlight the election administration's trouble in balancing the closure of voter registration with the opening of absentee voting.

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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