Park City Attorney Monitors Elections In San Juan County
A Park City Attorney is traveling to the Four Corners Region of southern Utah for election day this year. He plans to watch for irregularities in a few of the voting districts on and near the Bears Ears National Monument including the Navajo Reservation. Carolyn Murray has this:
Attorney Alex Natt said there were several incidents that prompted him to volunteer to monitor the election in San Juan County. He said in 2016, the County was sued for Gerrymandering which the Federal Court ruled had disenfranchised the Navajo population living there.
In December, Federal Judge Robert Shelby also ordered that all the county commission and school board seats be vacated, and special elections be held in the newly drawn districts. According to the 2010 census, the Native American population in San Juan county is 50 percent.
“The Court redrew the district and ordered a special election here in November to elect new county commissioners and the school board. And, for the first time, the Navajo will have majority population in two of the three districts in San Juan County, which is important. And, so, there was a primary held this summer and the Rural Utah Project of whom I am volunteering to support, a volunteer and whom I support, observed a number of irregularities in the election process. And so, we’re going back down again to district two which is the majority, well the contested district. One of the districts is primarily Caucasian and the Caucasian candidate is running unopposed. One is very highly Navajo, and that person’s running opposed. But district two is going to be a contested district.”
Natt said at one voting district in the Navajo community of Montezuma Creek, multiple issues occurred during last summer’s Primary Election.
“There was an absence of an appropriate number of ballots. There weren’t printers that were provided to the election officials, so they could print other ballots. There wasn’t printer paper in Montezuma Creek and this was in an August Primary. The power in the polling station went out and so people were standing in the dark and it was hot, people couldn’t see. Navajo, for instance, is not a written language so there needs to be translators available and so what our focus will be is to just help make sure, that in any circumstance they’re allowed to vote. And, this goes nay where in Utah. If you show up at a polling place, you must be offered a provisional ballot.”
Natt said his group is limited in what they can say and do inside the polling station.
“If we observe there to be some discomfort or irregularity among a voter, we can speak to that person outside the polling station, and advise them of their rights, and send them back and make them demand a ballot.”
The San Juan County Clerk removed Native American County Council Candidate, Willie Greyeyes from the ballot in March.
“And so, one of the candidates is a Navajo named Willie Greyeyes, who people may remember, the San Juan County Commissioner, removed him from the ballot based upon an argument he did not live within the state of Utah. The federal court restored Mr. Greyeyes to the ballot and he will be one of the candidates in District two.”
Natt is involved in the Rural Utah Project because he believes voting is every Americans right. He said the Native People living in the Bears Ears area are dealing with issues related to the monument designation and the environment.
“San Juan County is the location of the Bears Ears National Monument. They are interested in these types of issues down in Southern Utah, environmental issues, voting issues and I’m happy to help them as I can. This is what it is to be an American. The right to vote is critical. When these types of machinations are uncovered, I think as an attorney and as just a person whose interested in the concepts of democracy and equal representation. This is something I’m compelled to do.”
Natt and about 10 other attorneys will be there in San Juan County monitoring the vote to insure it’s a fair election.