Navajo Tribal Reduction Initiative (2009)

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The Navajo Tribal Reduction Initiative was a ballot measure that will appear on the December, 15 ballot in Maricopa County, Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona. The ballot measure called for a reduction in tribal lawmakers, from 88 to 24, and proposed to give the president line-item veto ability.[1]

This measure was approved

Even though this was approved, many are fighting it and the proposed changes to the council numbers will not take place until 2014, meaning next yers election will still hold 88 seats for the council.[2]


Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr., the man responsible for heading the ballot initiative, said a line-item veto would bring accountability to government spending. He also stated that reducing the size of the council would meet the demands of tribal members who have previously voted to reduce the number of tribal officials, the latest being in 2000.


Tribal Council Speaker Lawrence Morgan stated that fewer delegates would ultimately mean less representation for chapters, particularly those who share a delegate. He also stated that money saved on delegates' pay would be needed to hire additional staff.[3]

Path to the ballot

In July 2009 hearing officer Carol Perry decided that the initiatives could go forward and be subject to election. The election is scheduled to be held within six months. However, Navajo Election Administration challenged that ruling. In an appeal filed on July 6, 2009 with the Navajo Supreme Court, the administration contended that a tribal hearing officer ignored a requirement under election law that initiatives not go forward without the required 16,530 valid signatures..[4]

Signature-gathering to allow the measure to be placed was suspended for about six weeks while Tribal Council Speaker Lawrence Morgan Morgan and Joe Shirley worked out a compromise over reducing the council. The two reached an agreement that would have let Navajo voters decide whether to cut the council to 40. But the deal never made it to the council floor.

Petition circulators gathered 16,530 or 15 percent of the 110,000 registered Navajo voters, more than the required amount, but elections officials said not enough checked out. A review of signatures found that they still fell short, but the signatures for the council reduction effort exceeded the requirement by more than 360.