Navajo Nation leaders are urging Gov. Doug Ducey to veto a bill that would shorten the time allowed to add missing signatures on early ballots. The tribe says if it’s signed into law Indian Country voters would be disproportionately impacted. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
Navajo officials say the legislation would violate a 2019 settlement in a federal voting rights lawsuit between the tribe and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. It allowed five business days after an election for voters to add their signatures to ballots if they were originally left off. The Republican-backed bill would put in place a 7 p.m. cut off time on Election Day.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says the legislation amounts to voter suppression.
"I think, we, everyone recognizes that this is a violation of the voting rights act," he says. "There were promises made by the state and the counties. Let’s keep those promises. Let’s not be like the federal government where there was a slew of broken promises."
Nez says because no Arizona county seats are located on the Navajo Nation, many residents would have to travel hundreds of miles on short notice in order to sign their ballots. Arizona Democrats and voting rights advocates have also condemned the bill.
The Navajo Nation voted overwhelmingly Democratic in last year’s election, which many political observers credit for President Joe Biden’s narrow win in Arizona.
Republican backers of the bill say it would add necessary security to state elections.