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SJC: ballot lawsuit is political conspiracy


A lawsuit brought by the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission against San Juan County (Utah) over the use of mail-in ballots is a “sham” designed to return control of the county commission seat now held by Rebecca Benally to Mark Maryboy, Kenneth Maryboy or Manuel Morgan, the county and its commissioners allege in a counterclaim.

In a May 9 response to the counterclaim, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (co-counsel in the case) asks a U.S. district judge to dismiss it, saying Benally is alleging injuries against her as a person while the lawsuit has to do with her capacity as a county commissioner.

“The counterclaim is an unfortunate distraction from a serious lawsuit about the voting rights of a historically marginalized community in rural Utah,” said Leah Farrell, staff attorney with the ACLU of Utah and co-counsel on the original lawsuit.

The original suit, filed in February, alleges the county’s closure of all but one polling place in favor of mail-in ballots discourages Navajos, who may not read and write English well, from voting.

But the counterclaim, filed March 31, alleges the number of Navajos voting actually doubled in the 2014 elections, when the mail-in ballot system was implemented. The claim goes on to refute the claims of the individual Navajo plaintiffs in the original case that they live far from polling places and were not comfortable voting by mail.

All the plaintiffs, according to the counterclaim, live within an hour of a polling place and most actually voted by mail in the 2014 elections. A plaintiff who stated she was not comfortable voting in English has acted as an interpreter for in-person voting as well as an election judge, the counterclaim reads.

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

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