Navajo Nation, Congressman Joseph Morelle Meet To Support Native American Voting Rights Act

Navajo Nation Congressman Morelle
L-R: Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton; Council Delegate Curtis Yanito; Navajo Nation Speaker Crystalyne Curley; Congressman Joseph Morelle; Council Delegate Shawna Ann Claw; and Council Delegate Cherilyn Yazzie.

TSE BONITO, NM – The 25th Navajo Nation Council met with U.S. Congressman Joseph Morelle (D-NY) to discuss concerns and recommendations regarding voting and elections issues to build the congressional record in support of the Native American Voting Rights Act.

25th Navajo Nation Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley provided testimony that focused on areas of geographic distance, language and institutional barriers, and socio-economic realities. Speaker Curley discussed how issues like public transportation, rural addressing, and out-of-precinct voting have impacted Navajo voters.

“Protecting the Native American vote means considering the unique challenges faced by Navajo voters,” said Speaker Curley. “The Nation has a strong interest in ensuring that Navajo voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process the same as other U.S. citizens.”

Congressman Morelle, a Ranking Member of the House Committee on Administration, is on a week-long trip, visiting tribal communities to examine the barriers that they face in voting. The testimony he is gathering will help to provide insight, context, and examples of the adversity that Native Americans face in voting. The congressman expects to have a hearing regarding the Native American Voting Rights Act early next year.

“One of the most important responsibilities of the House Committee on Administration is addressing voting rights,” said Congressman Morelle. “There has never been a hearing on this bill, and we wanted to commemorate the 100th year of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 with discussions on barriers to voting.”

Members of the 25th Navajo Nation Council who attended the meeting also brought voting issues to the table.

Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton talked about the challenges some Navajo voters face in producing valid birth certificates because they were not born in health care facilities. She also mentioned transportation issues, ADA compliance for disabled voters, identity theft, and voter fraud. According to Council Delegate Curtis Yanito, communication for non-English speaking Navajo voters continues to create issues with deadlines and ballot drop-offs.

Before meeting with the Navajo Council Delegates in Tse Bonito, NM, Congressman Morelle also visited with Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty in Sheep Springs, NM.