Navajo Postpones Presidential Election, Strips Board Of Authority

October 31, 2014
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Navajo Postpones Presidential Election, Strips Board Of Authority

Courtesy of Rusell Begaye Campaign
A special election will be held between third place finisher Russell Begaye and Joe Shirley Jr.

The Navajo Nation will postpone its presidential election and remove a candidate who is not fluent in the tribe’s language. The tribe's high court is also stripping the authority of its board of election supervisors. 

The Navajo election director agreed to hold a special election to decide on a new president. Those ballots will have third-place finisher Russell Begaye’s name on them instead of Chris Deschene’s.

Deschene was disqualified from the race after he refused to prove his language skills. Chief Justice Herb Yazzie ruled over a week ago to postpone the election but the board of election refused to comply.

“They don’t have authority to review laws and to declare them invalid,” Yazzie said.

In a recent statement, the board of elections said “it has an obligation to ensure that all election processes are done in a fair and impartial manner, free of corruption and intimidation.”

“The laws of this court must be enforced and it must be strong enough to ensure compliance,” said attorney David Jordan, who represents the presidential contender who made the original complaint against Deschene.

“The signal that is sent to future generations is that, if you don’t like what the Supreme Court says simply rally them up and intimidate, use the mob to intimidate people until everybody backs down and does what you’re told," Jordan said.

Other questions on the ballot will still be counted Nov. 4. That includes the choice for Congress. Democrats are concerned the botched election may mean low voter turnout.

All non-president questions on the 10,000 early votes already cast will be counted. No date has been set for the special election.