Native Americans Rock The Vote

November 07, 2012

Jennifer Johnson
Navajo tribal members line up to vote in Chinle.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- When Arizona’s congressional map was redrawn, 12 of the state’s American Indian tribes campaigned to be in the same district with the hopes of having a stronger unified voice in Washington. The Native vote could be the tie breaker in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District race.

The Associated Press has called the race for former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, the Democratic candidate.

Political analyst Fred Solop said it appears the Native American voting power may just tip the scales in the Democrats’ favor.

"I think it speaks well for needing to pay attention to the Native American vote especially in Apache County and Navajo County," Solop said. "Those are counties that make a difference."

Knowing this, Kirkpatrick spent Election Day on the Navajo Nation.

"Everywhere I went, I mean people know me, they know I’ve fought for them," Kirkpatrick said. "Every place we went people were just excited, they were coming to the polls, a steady stream of voters. We were seeing lines of voters I had never seen out there."

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelley gave his employees the day off and urged them to vote. The tribe relies heavily on federal and state funding.

Tens of thousands of provisional ballots from both on and off the reservation remain uncounted. Kirkpatrick’s Republican opponent Jonathan Paton said in a statement he’s waiting for every vote to be counted.

A Secretary of State’s office spokesman said we may not know the winner of this race for several days.