SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Today, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in Yazzie v. Hobbs denying special accommodations for Navajo Nation absentee voters due to mail delivery delays. The League of Women Voters of Arizona filed an amicus brief in support of the Navajo Nation. Pinny Sheoran, state advocacy chair of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, issued this statement in response to today’s decision.
“Today’s decision is deeply disappointing in a state and country that has continuously exploited and disregarded the rights of Native Americans. As our government has failed to protect its people from COVID-19, Navajo Nation leadership have taken this responsibility into their own hands with success. Now, tribe members who choose vote at home to protect themselves and their neighbors from spreading this virus face disenfranchisement because of that choice.
“Essentially, because of the disconnect between Navajo Nation residents and US mail services, an entire voting option is uniquely limited for one segment of Arizona’s voting population. That is not equality.
“Due to mailing delays, Navajo Nation residents may not receive their mailed ballots in time to cast them, or their ballots may not arrive at their election office by 7:00 pm on Election Day. These voters have little or no recourse. Added to this is the fact that Election Day polling places are few and far between on the reservation, and early voting sites even more so.
“Today’s ruling ensures that COVID-19 presents yet another barrier to voting access for Navajo Nation voters. At the League of Women Voters, we are left to ask: what does it take for our government to provide fair voting access for these citizens? Can we truly claim our democracy is strong when the voices of its native citizens are restricted and silenced again and again?
“The League of Women Voters of Arizona stands in solidarity with the Navajo Nation and will continue to work with them to ensure voter access on the reservation. We encourage voters to make a voting plan and execute it as early as they can. There is formidable power in the voice and vote of Arizona's Tribal communities.”
PRESS CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]
LWV of Arizona filed a friend of the court brief in the federal court case, Yazzie v. Hobbs, which asks the state to count ballots received from reservations if they are postmarked for Election Day and received within 10 days.