Utah Ballot Measure Opposed By Navajos Trails In Early Tallies

Nov 7, 2019

A Utah ballot proposition that has reignited a fierce dispute over Navajo voting rights was trailing late Wednesday after the initial tally, but too many votes remained uncounted to make it final.

Credit (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Voters in Utah’s San Juan County cast their ballots on Tuesday. The measure would launch a one-year study to make changes to county government, including possibly expanding a three-member county commission that Navajos took control of during the 2018 election.

As of Wednesday evening, the proposition was trailing by 121 votes, with 650 ballots left to be counted according to a San Juan County, Utah election official. The next updated tally isn’t expected until Friday at the earliest.

The measure divided the rural count that overlaps with the Navajo Nation. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez was among those who opposed the measure. He urged voters to reject it, saying it would undermine the voice of Navajo voters.

The man behind the proposition, Blanding, Utah Mayor Joe Lyman, says he’s advocated for making a five-member commission long before the 2018 election results. He argues a five-member commission would spread the workload and provide a more represented voice to residents by creating smaller districts.