FARMINGTON, NM. (AP) – The Navajo sue San Juan County over a recently adopted map that will determine the political boundaries of the northwestern district of New Mexico until 2030.
The tribe’s government, its human rights commission and five members of the tribe claim that the five-member constituency commission violated the Voting Rights Act by approving a map that unites Indian voters into a single constituency.
A lawsuit filed last week said the card, approved by the commission in December, deprived Indian voters of “equal opportunities” to choose their candidates in four constituencies, despite making up nearly 40% of the total. county population.
The complaint, filed in federal court, also says the commission’s actions add to the history of racism and voter repression faced by representatives of the Navajo nation in the county and municipalities.
Leonard Gorman, executive director of the human rights commission’s office, said in a statement that the card chosen by county commissioners deprives voters of Navajo rights.
County spokesman Devin Neely declined to comment on the lawsuit.
In November, the district commissioners were presented with three maps with redrawn boundaries of the commission districts. This was reported by the Farmington Daily Times.
The Navajo Human Rights Commission presented a fourth map that evenly distributed the Indian population across the two counties. The fifth card, provided by county officials and an outside firm contracted with the county, was based on comments gathered during the public hearing.
The complaint says that in December, commissioners voted 4-1 to adopt a map containing a high density of Indian voters in the southwestern part of the county.
Gorman said the Navajo nation’s priority is to maintain compliance with the Electoral Rights Act and that the San Juan County Commission should respect the principles of redistribution of districts when it comes to majority-majority counties.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to block the county from using the card in future elections and to order the commission to develop a new card.