Court rejects bid to extend vote counting for Navajo Nation

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a bid to give an extra 10 days after Election Day to count ballots mailed by Navajo Nation members living on the Arizona portion of the tribe’s reservation

Thursday’s ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an effort by six Navajos who sought more time for authorities to count ballots.

They alleged mail service on the reservation is much slower and less accessible than other parts of the state so ballots should be counted if postmarked by Election Day but received by election officials up to 10 days later. They also argued that Arizona’s requirement that mail ballots be received by 7 p.m. on election night would disenfranchise tribal members.

9 PHOTOSNavajo 'code talkers' who helped the US win WWIISee GalleryNavajo 'code talkers' who helped the US win WWIITwo Navajo Indians, serving with a Marine signal unit, operate a portable radio set, close behind the Bougainville front lines, Solomon Islands, WWII, December 1943 .(Photo by United States Marine Corps/Getty Images)

A memorandum from Marine Corps Major General Clayton B. Vogel recommending the enlistment of 200 Navajo code talkers.

(Via National Archives)

The first 29 Navajo code talker recruits are sworn in at Camp Wingate, New Mexico.

(Photo via National Archives)


Two U.S. Marine Navajo ‘code talkers’, signalmen who used a slightly modified version of their native language, send a radio signal during the battle of Bougainville in 1943. The Japanese were never able to break this code. (Photo via Getty Images)

June 27, 1944

Carl Nelson Gorman, one of the original 29 Navajo code talkers, tracks enemy movements on Saipan.

(Photo via National Archives)


Private First Class Preston Toledo and Private First Class Frank Toledo, cousins and full-blood Navajo Indians, attached to a Marine Artillery Regiment in the South Pacific, relay orders over a field radio in their native tongue, Ballarat, July 7, 1943. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Left to right, Corporal Oscar Ithma, Private First Class Jack Nez, and Private First Class Carl Gorman, Navajo Indian communication men with the Marines, landed with the first assault waves to hit the beach, Saipan, 1940s. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Chester Nez, one of the original 29 Navajo code talkers.

(Photo via United States Marine Corps)


Group portrait showing Navajo Indians skilled in the native lore of their ancestors who are serving with a Marine Signal Unit in Bougainville, during World War II, December 1943. Front row, left to right, Privates Earl Johnny, Kee Etsicitty, John V. Goodluck, and Private First Class David Jordan. Back row Privates Jack C. Morgan, George H. Kirk, Tom H. Jones, and Corporal Henry Bake, Jr. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

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A lower-court judge rejected the request two weeks ago, saying those seeking the extension didn’t prove the deadline imposes a disparate burden on Navajos as a protected class of voters.

Thursday’s ruling from the appeals court panel used different reasoning to reach the same result. The court said the six plaintiffs had no right to sue because they hadn’t shown they would be affected by slow mail, or even that the remedy they suggested the court adopt would help them vote.

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