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KNAU and Arizona News

Navajo Leaders Call Early Voting List Removal Law ‘Voter Suppression’

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Felicia Fonseca/AP, file
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Governor Doug Ducey Tuesday signed a bill into law that would remove inactive voters from the popular statewide list to receive mail-in ballots. Tribal leaders, however, are concerned the measure will disenfranchise voters in Indian Country. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The new law removes voters who haven’t participated in two consecutive election cycles from the early voting list. Republican backers say it ensures election integrity. But critics worry it could purge more than 100,000 voters.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says the law will make voting on the mostly remote reservation harder.

"We’re talking about voter suppression here … And it’s just an example of pushing the Native American vote out of the democratic process we have in this country," President Nez says.

The Navajo Nation swung heavily for President Joe Biden in last year’s election, and many political observers credit tribal votes with the Democrat’s narrow win in Arizona. Eighty percent of the state’s voters have signed up to receive early ballots since the Legislature created the list in 2007.

Last Friday, Ducey signed a separate bill that limits the time voters have to add missing signatures to early ballots. Navajo leaders also oppose that measure, arguing there are no county seats on the reservation, which often requires hours of travel on short notice.

The bills are among a dozen signed into law by the Republican governor this year so far impacting voting in the state.

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