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Native Vote 2024. Last Tuesday, June 18, the Navajo Voters Coalition recognized the 25th Navajo Nation Council for its efforts at the Navajo Voters Coalition Conference with an honorary recognition.  At the conference, the attendees had the opportunity to learn issues impacting the Native Vote, the 100th Anniversary of Indian Citizenship, Native Veterans’ role in gaining the right to vote, and other present issues affecting the Native vote.

In an effort to improve Native voter turnout, the Navajo Nation Council passed emergency legislation in March to move its tribal primary election from August to July, matching the state of Arizona’s voting schedule. The move was in response to an Arizona bill changing the state’s primary election date to July 30.

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The coordination between the Navajo Nation and the state of Arizona is considered a win for Navajo citizens who often have to drive long distances—sometimes hours—to vote over poor roads. Instead of making two trips to vote, they will now only have to make one.

The Navajo Nation Council hopes that this change will increase voter turnout. In 2020, Native Americans voted in historical numbers, and the Navajo Nation reported turnout rates as high as 90%.

“Sometimes our rights are complicated with challenges,” said Council Delegate Shawna Ann Claw at Tuesday’s coalition.  “Our elders laid the foundation to ensure our right to vote. Our vote can create change within our communities and nationally. Yet, on the Navajo Nation, we face obstacles in rural addressing, accessibility of polling locations, Navajo translation, and the redistricting of voter boundaries. Our people constantly overcome obstacles and disparities to show up at the polls. Let’s continue to instill hope and motivation for our people to vote.”

Council Delegate Dr. Andy Nez underscored the gravity of the Native vote. 

“Navajo voters possess so much power that we must ensure our presence is known this election season,” Nez told attendees. “It’s important for our Navajo Nation and our respective states, like Arizona, this primary and general election.”

Coconino County District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler pressed the need to spread the word about the updated primary date to ensure optimal voter turnout. 

“People are still under the impression that the Navajo primary date hasn’t changed. We need to keep the word out there,” Fowler said. “Additionally, in this year’s general election, we will have many voter decisions that state legislators have added. We need to get education out to our voters on these initiatives.”

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About The Author
Neely Bardwell
Author: Neely BardwellEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian) is a staff reporter for Native News Online. Bardwell is also a student at Michigan State University where she is majoring in policy and minoring in Native American studies.