Navajo Nation primary elections yield poor voting turnout

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, August 30, 2012

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T he Navajo Nation held a primary election Tuesday for selecting new chapter, grazing and school board candidates to run in November's general election.

The only problem was that less than 30 percent of registered Navajo voters showed up to cast a ballot.

It's the lowest turnout in at least the last two decades and possibly in the history of chapter primaries.

In 2008, 55 percent of the registered voters came out to vote.

This time only 36,477 of the 123,359 people who were registered to vote actually voted. That came to 29.57 percent of the voters.

Part of the reason for this is that there were only a handful of elections where there was actually competition, according to deputy director of the tribe's election office Johnny R. Thompson.

The top two vote-getters in each race went on the general election and since 90 percent of the races only had one or two candidates, everyone in those races automatically went on to the general.

Only two chapters had a better than 45 percent turnout. Alamo was the top chapter with a 52.32 percent turnout while Tsé Si' Ani came in second with 48.53 percent.

Several chapters had a turnout of less than 20 percent. These were Pueblo Pintado with 19.2 percent, Huerfano with 15.73 percent, Mexican Water with 15.6 percent, Nanahnezad with 13.28 percent, Upper Fruitland with 19.3, Red Mesa with 14.33 percent, Coppermine Canyon with 18.87 percent, LeChee with 19.47 percent and Oljato with 19.49 percent.

Thompson said there were only a few minor glitches on Tuesday and the biggest problem the election office faces is the fact that there are still dozens of positions - mostly in the school board races - where no one ran for the position.

Thompson said the election board will address this problem at its next board meeting at which time the board is expected to open up these positions so that people can file for them.

The election office staff was still working on putting the election results in their computer Tuesday morning so the Times was not able to give totals for the few races where there were more than two candidates running.

But Thompson said the results should be put on the election office's website late Wednesday or early Thursday. Their website is

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