Complaint filed in response to language fluency referendum dismissed

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation's Office of Hearings and Appeals has dismissed a complaint filed in response to last month's language fluency referendum election.

Chief Hearing Officer Richie Nez dismissed the grievance filed July 30 with the Office of Hearings and Appeals in Window Rock, Ariz.. by Klagetoh Chapter member LaVerne Joe.

"I did an oral order to dismiss the grievance," Nez said in a telephone interview last week.

Joe alleged in her grievance that three polling officials allowed a poster advocating the passage of the July 21 referendum inside the chapter house in Arizona.

The referendum allowed tribal voters to decide whether to amend the language qualifications for the tribal president and vice president so a candidate's ability to speak and understand Navajo and English would be determined by voters when they cast ballots.

The unofficial results show that the referendum passed.

Nez said Joe attended the Aug. 12 hearing without legal representation, and she failed to show how the poster would have affected the outcome of the election.

The unofficial results for Klagetoh Chapter show that 152 ballots were cast in favor of the referendum, and 81 were cast against it.

Overall, the unofficial results show that 13,017 ballots were cast in favor of the referendum, and 11,778 ballots were cast against the measure.

Nez said he would issue a written order this week and Joe could file an appeal to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court after that order is issued.

The Navajo Board of Election Supervisors has delayed certifying the election results until the matter is resolved.

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