A lawsuit was settled Wednesday regarding plaintiffs’ claims that San Juan County did not provide effective language assistance to Navajo-speaking voters and that Navajo voters had unequal voting opportunities in the county. The lawsuit originated in early 2016 over San Juan County’s decision to switch to a vote-by-mail system and offer in-person voting in only one place located in the majority-white section of the county.
Articles about voting issues in Utah.
The House Government Operations Committee approved two bills Wednesday that may drastically affect voting in Utah. HB35, sponsored by Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Salem, would create a pilot program that will make it an option to implement rank-choice and approval forms of voting in certain nonpartisan municipal elections. In rank-choice voting, the voter ranks multiple candidates for one seat from most favorable to least favorable with a numbering system. Approval voting differs from rank-choice voting in that voters mark the candidates they approve and leave the others blank.
Utah: Expanding the right to vote past heads of households was a ‘grave mistake,’ writes Davis County Republican precinct chairman | The Salt Lake Tribune
Expanding voting rights to those who aren’t heads of households was a “grave mistake,” a GOP precinct chairman from Davis County wrote in a Sunday morning Facebook post. “The more I study history the more I think giving voting rights to others not head of household has been a grave mistake!” Casey Fisher posted on Facebook Sunday morning. Fisher did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening.
Utah: For Native Americans, a ‘Historic Moment’ on the Path to Power at the Ballot Box | The New York Times
In this county of desert and sagebrush, Wilfred Jones has spent a lifetime angered by what his people are missing. Running water, for one. Electricity, for another. But worst of all, in his view, is that the Navajo people here lack adequate political representation. So Mr. Jones sued, and in late December, after a federal judge ruled that San Juan County’s longtime practice of packing Navajo voters into one voting district violated the United States Constitution, the county was ordered to draw new district lines for local elections. The move could allow Navajo people to win two of three county commission seats for the first time, overturning more than a century of political domination by white residents. And the shift here is part of an escalating battle over Native American enfranchisement, one that comes amid a larger wave of voting rights movements spreading across the country.
Rep. Bruce Cutler proudly describes himself as a Republican and a fiscal conservative. But he believes that’s not necessarily why you should vote for him. “I hate labels. I’m not one to like labels,” the state representative from Murray told FOX 13 recently. It’s partly why he’s proposing a bill in the 2018 legislative session that would eliminate straight ticket voting in Utah. “I just think that people need to vote for the person rather than the party. We’ve seen this on the national level,” he said, referring to the recent Alabama senate race involving Roy Moore, who faced accusations of sexual misconduct involving girls. (Rep. Cutler added he would not support Moore.)
San Juan County is asking a federal court to finalize a recent decision on voting districts. County leaders want to appeal the ruling, as the county’s Native American majority applauds it. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued his decision a few days before Christmas. It basically requires San Juan County to hold a special election next year using new district boundaries for three commission seats and five school board posts. And it’s aimed at reflecting the Navajo majority. “People are very excited,” says Mark Maryboy, who was talking about the decision with other Navajos on Wednesday in Monument Valley. “They want to try to get some Navajo candidates to run for the county commission, school board and other county positions.”
A federal judge has handed down new voting districts to replace those declared discriminatory against American Indian voters in southeastern Utah, but a prominent county commissioner said Friday that the county plans to appeal. The new election districts are designed to give an equal voice in local races to native residents who make up about half the population. Mark Maryboy called them a well-deserved victory that comes after a half century of struggle. “It means a great socio-economic development for the Navajo people in San Juan County,” said Maryboy, who is Navajo and a former county commissioner. “Navajos make better county officials. I don’t think Navajos will discriminate against the white county population.”
Utah: Errors led to rejection of thousands of votes in this month’s Utah elections | The Salt Lake Tribune
Did you hear the one about the hundreds of Utah County residents whose votes were rejected because they mailed them too late, forgot to sign them, sent in envelopes with no ballots or even tried casting votes for dead people? It’s no joke. All of that really happened, according to the state canvass of the special 3rd District Congressional election. That final official vote count occurred Monday, even though winning Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, was sworn into office two weeks ago. State Auditor John Dougall — who along with the state treasurer, attorney general and lieutenant governor form the Board of Canvassers — requested data about why any votes were rejected.
Utah: Judge is poised to ‘adjust gerrymandering with gerrymandering,’ giving Navajos an edge in southern Utah county | The Salt Lake Tribune
History may be in the making in San Juan County this week when a judge holds hearings that could place the Navajo community in the political driver’s seat — a stark departure from the past century dominated by Anglos. On Thursday, federal Judge Robert Shelby will hold public hearings in Monticello at 10:30 a.m. and Bluff at 3:30 p.m. regarding several map proposals — all of which most likely would lead to Navajos holding majorities on the two most powerful government bodies in the county.
While this year’s elections have seen some interesting twists, one of the most problematic could be the printed stickers used by those voting for Provo mayoral write-in candidate, Odell Miner. In a generous move, Miner had transparent stickers printed with his name and a filled-in voting oval or bubble to affix to the mail-in ballot in the hopes of making things easier for those voting for him. Bryan Thompson, Utah County clerk/auditor, was uneasy about Miner using the stickers in case a reading machine got jammed or had some other problem. However, Thompson said he couldn’t stop Miner from doing it either. “I told Odell you may not see all of your count,” Thompson said.