FARMINGTON — As Navajo voters go to the polls today to vote for their chapter officials, they have one less option to choose from: the write-in candidate.

"I think personally it's good," said Gadii'ahi Chapter Vice President Harry Descheene. "It's better to know you're running ahead of time."

The Navajo Nation Election Administration since April has been informing chapter officials and members that it will not accept write-in candidates this year after tribal leaders passed an amendment to voter rights in April.

The administration not only published the information in local newspapers on the Navajo Nation, but also those in surrounding towns. It also omitted the option on the ballot.

"There's no longer write-ins," said Johnny Thompson, assistant program manager for the administration Monday.

The decision follows a amendment supposed passed in April by tribal leaders during the Navajo Nation Council's spring session. However, it is unclear whether leaders ever finalized the amendment.

The amendment made it past the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee, which precedes the Navajo Nation Council, but the council's vote of approval is necessary for all finalized legislation, said Jerome Clark, chief of staff for the Navajo Nation Legislative Branch.

The amendment appears never to have made it to the Navajo Nation Council, Clark said.


Since 1990 voters have been able to write in candidates on their ballots, according to the Resolution of the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors, a document which in April recommended to the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee the rescission of the write-in candidate option.

Write-in candidates are able to run without filing the fees that apply to other candidates.

In recent years, candidates in chapter elections paid $75 to file for candidacy in the primary election, though, this year, candidates in chapter elections must pay $200 to file to run.

"(The write-in candidates) don't have to pay the filing fee," said Descheene. "They just sneak by."

Several groups in April expressed Descheene's same opinions about write-in candidates, considering the allowance for write-in candidates somewhat unfair to other candidates.

"Write-in candidacies are not necessary as sufficient time and adequate opportunity is provided to everyone interested in running for office," the Western Navajo Agency wrote in its own letter of support for the amendment. "The current process for write-in candidacies may be unfair to those regular candidates eliminated in primary elections and not allowed to be placed on general election ballot."

The Chinle Agency Council also expressed its support, arguing that three months was plenty of time for candidates to decide whether they wanted to file for candidacy or not.

Even the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors deemed the elimination of write-in candidates as in the best interest of candidates and voters.

Others, such as Teec Nos Pos Chapter President Roy Kady, are not keen on the exclusion of the option.

Kady earned his current election position through the write-in process.

"That's how I won," said Kady, who knows several chapters who think the new policy is "very undemocratic."

"There really was no concrete reason," Kady said.