San Juan County, Navajo Nation settle redistricting case

The Navajo Nation and San Juan County reached an agreement Monday about commission districts after the tribe alleged that its members were not adequately represented after redistricting.  “The settlement we reached with San Juan County is a victory for the Navajo Nation and the Navajo People,” Navajo Nation Department of Justice Attorney General Ethel Branch […]

San Juan County, Navajo Nation settle redistricting case

The Navajo Nation and San Juan County reached an agreement Monday about commission districts after the tribe alleged that its members were not adequately represented after redistricting. 

“The settlement we reached with San Juan County is a victory for the Navajo Nation and the Navajo People,” Navajo Nation Department of Justice Attorney General Ethel Branch said in a press release Monday. “In exercising our sovereign right, we secured justice for Navajo voters in San Juan County. For decades, and despite being the majority, our people were only able to elect one Navajo Commissioner in San Juan County. Now we have an opportunity to change that through more equal treatment of Navajo votes in the County redistricting process.”

Both the Navajo Nation and San Juan County released a joint statement on the maps last September.

“This new map addresses concerns raised by the Navajo Nation in providing more meaningful (opportunities) to elect their candidates of choice,” a joint statement from both entities from September states. “San Juan County continues to strive to work with the Navajo Nation as a partner in meeting the needs of Navajo and all citizens of San Juan County.”

Redistricting efforts took place in 2021 following the 2020 U.S. Census across New Mexico and across the country.

The San Juan County Commission redistricting effort left much to be desired from the Navajo population.

The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit to remedy the voter dilution allegations levied against the County with the help of institutions like the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the University of California-Los Angeles Voting Rights Project, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and the DLA Piper law firm.

The lawsuit was amicably dismissed in federal court last week, San Juan County spokesman Devin Neely told the NM Political Report Tuesday.

San Juan County and the Navajo Nation settled the lawsuit by negotiating a new redistricting map that ensured “a more equitable distribution of the Navajo population,” with 74 percent Native American voters in San Juan County District 1 and 70 percent in district 2, according to a UCLA Voting Rights Project press release.

The new map is active through the 2030 U.S. Census and another redistricting process.For more information about New Mexico elections and to check your registration, visit www.NMVote.org.

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