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Navajo Voter Rights Group Plots Strategy

Navajo Voter Rights Group Plots Strategy
March 03
05:55 2015
Chris Deschene mpr 10 16 14 SMALL

Chris Deschene

By John Christian Hopkins

With an April 21 Navajo presidential election looming, the pro-Deschene Navajo Voter’s Rights Coalition is running out of time to get its preferred candidate back on the ballot.

Chris Clark Deschene, a Page High School graduate, finished second in the 2014 presidential primary. He was removed from the ballot after refusing to participate in a Navajo fluency test.

The voter’s rights group met at the LeChee Chapter House Monday evening.

“We need to rev it back up,” organizer Alan Tsinigine told the two dozen attendees.

There’s a special council session on March 13 and the coalition plans a protest, Tsinigine said. It may be the group’s last chance before the scheduled election, he added.

“If you can make it, we really need your support,” Tsinigine said.

On February 20 the Navajo Supreme Court ordered a presidential election to be held on April, between Dr. Joe Shirley, Jr. – the top vote-getter in the 2014 primary – and third-place finisher Russell Begay.

Judicial reform is also high on the group’s agenda.

Herb Yazzie

Justice Herb Yazzie

The Bodaway-Gap Chapter passed a resolution to remove Chief Justice Herb Yazzie from office, Thomas Tso said. He hopes to get the resolution approved by all 110 chapters, he said.

“Now we’re going after Herb Yazzie,” Tso said.

The chief justice used to be elected, Tso said. However, Yazzie – whom many voters see as ignoring the people – was appointed by then-president Joe Shirley.

“If we can get (a resolution) passed, then we may have to vote whether to retain him, or boot him out,” Marie Tsosie explained.

Yazzie has a law degree and he should understand the ramifications of his actions, Tso added.

Many Deschene supports believe that Yazzie is making up tribal laws, rather than just interpreting them.

“Ben Shelly – we might have him forever!” Tso exclaimed.

No write-ins will be allowed during the election, so Tsinigine told supporters that they should sign in at their polling place but turn in their ballots without marking anything on them.

“Shoot them a blank ballot,” he said.

That way they will be able to show the strength of the Deschene supporters by comparing the number of voters that turned up at the polls compared to the actual number of votes cast, he explained.

“Spread the word,” Tsinigine said. “Don’t mark anything on the ballot.”

 

Feature Photo: Alan Tsingine

 

Facebook: Navajo Voter’s Rights Coalition

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