Council amends section of Election Code
At the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee’s special meeting on Nov. 18, an action was passed to the Navajo Nation Council to amend section 282 of the Navajo Nation Election Code.
Diné lawmakers are changing the voter registration deadline under the section.
Registration ends 30 days before the general election, however absentee voting begins on the same day as this deadline.
If the legislation is passed, the amendment would change the voter registration deadline to end 40 days before the general election rather than 30 days.
Delegate Edison J. Wauneka, sponsor of the legislation, said the amendment is not to violate anybody’s rights. Instead, the legislation is meant to help absentee voters.
Wauneka said the deadline for voter registration is not a problem if a person is voting on Election Day because the election administration has 30 days to verify the registration. On the other hand, the deadline does not give the same forgiveness toward absentee voters.
“Sometimes people come in and ask to get to vote absentee, maybe 29 days before an election, and sometimes the registration is not verified,” Wauneka said. “So, this extension of another 10 days is to ensure adequate time for encoding voter registration information and sufficient preparation for absentee voting.”
He said he has support for this legislation from the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors.
A concern was brought up by Delegate Elmer Begay on how this amendment would be enforced in chapters across the Navajo Nation.
Wauneka said the registrars would be retrained and recertified to handle the 40-day deadline. The board will continue to send letters reminding registrars to submit the registrations they receive from voters.
The motion carried, 21 in favor and 0 opposed. The legislation now moves onto Council where they will decide whether to pass this amendment.