The Navajo Nation is seeking a court order to allow tribal members to fix problems with signatures on early ballots in Arizona’s general election — a request that could delay the state from certifying ballots next month. Voters statewide were given more time to address mismatched signatures after Republicans alleged in a lawsuit that Maricopa and Pima counties contacted voters illegally after Election Day about signatures on ballot envelopes that didn’t match those on the voter file. A lawsuit filed this week by the largest American Indian reservation makes a broader argument to count ballots that Navajos properly filled out but didn’t sign. It alleges Navajos have fewer opportunities to participate in early voting and not enough translators to tell tribal members with limited or no English proficiency how to complete early ballots so they aren’t thrown out. The tribe said more than 100 votes cast by Navajos were disqualified.
“Navajo voters know our history of being denied the right to vote,” outgoing tribal President Russell Begaye said in a statement. “We know our history of being denied access to the political process. We know how we have been treated unfairly in the past. However, we will not let these injustices continue.”
The Navajo Nation’s federal lawsuit alleges violations of the state and federal constitutions as well as the federal Voting Rights Act. It names Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and election officials in Apache, Coconino and Navajo counties.