WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA—Voters on the Navajo Nation voted on Tuesday to eliminate the language fluency requirement for its elected officials. The referendum vote was decided by 1,229 votes.
The unofficial votes were 13,017 to change the language fluency requirements and 11,778 voting to keep the status quo. Tuesday’s election brought only 21 percent of the 122,000 registered voters among the Navajo Nation’s citizenry.
The language fluency was a factor in last year’s Navajo presidential election after it was determined Chris Deschene, the top vote getter in the presidential primary, was not “qualified” because he was not fluent in language in the Navajo language.
Tuesday’s vote will go into effect for the 2018 Navajo elections.
According to current Navajo law, candidates for the Navajo Nation’s elected offices must be fluent in the Navajo language.