Navajo Judges Election Question (November 2010)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
This measure would have asked members of the Navajo Nation if they wanted to change the appointment of the three tribal supreme court judges and seventeen district court judges to instead being elected by residents in the community. Supporters stated that election of all the judges would have made them more accountable to the people but opponents said that backers of the measure were just using it as a way to retaliate after a court decision that went against the tribal council. Currently the judiciary committee of the council appoints candidates and they serve life terms.
The ballot language had been approved for this measure and proponents of it felt that it did not tell voters what was really at stake. If this had been approved, it would have made it so that the current judges would lose their jobs in 2013 in order for each position to be elected. Former judges would have also lost their health benefits and salaries would have no longer been based on qualifications. Questions about the legality of the legislation had also been brought up. A complaint had been filed by the Navajo president to a district judge, hoping to stop the vote. The president noted that the legislation should have gone through him before it was approved for a vote. It was also noted that no public funds had been allocated to help with voter education, residents will not be clear what is being asked when they go to vote. The court had the final say if this will be voted on or not.
A judge removed the question from the ballot, though some early voters had cast their votes, they just will not count. The judge ruled in favor of the president, that it was not legal to have the issue not get approval from him.
- Mohave Daily News, "Navajo voters to decide on election of judges," July 25, 2010
- News West 9, "Wording OK'd for referendum to elect Navajo judges," September 16, 2010
- Durango Herald, "Navajo leader: Referendum improperly on ballot," October 1, 2010
- News West 9, "Judge rules Navajo referendum improperly on ballot," October 28, 2010