Election season will include several changes
Mar 08, 2016 | 5836 views | 0 0 comments | 181 181 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The election season is set to begin in San Juan County, with a number of unanswered questions and new features that could cause confusion for local residents.

The filing period for elected office in partisan races opens on March 11 and will close on March 17. The filing period for non-partisan races also closes on March 17.

A number of local, state and federal positions will be determined in the November 8 general election.

Complicating factors include a series of voting rights lawsuits filed by the Navajo Nation, new ways for parties to determine their candidates, how voters can submit their ballots, what are the voting districts, and how the neighborhood caucuses will operate.

The Navajo Nation has filed three separate voting rights lawsuits against San Juan County. In two of the cases, Federal Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the voting districts must be redrawn.

A proposed voting district plan for the San Juan School Board was approved for the upcoming election. However, the federal ruling was so late that the voting districts for the San Juan County Commission will stay the same for the upcoming election.

The single County Commission race, for the seat currently held by Bruce Adams, will continue to involve voters in eight precincts, including Spanish Valley, La Sal, three Monticello precincts, Halls Crossing, Navajo Mountain and Oljato. The voting districts follow precinct boundaries.

The school district boundaries are more complicated, with portions of some precincts in one voting district and portions in another.

There are three open positions on the San Juan School Board, including the positions currently held by Debbie Christiansen, Merri Shumway and Bill Boyle.

The district currently represented by Bill Boyle will lose voters in portions of the Ucolo and South Monticello precincts. In Blanding, the three voting districts generally follow Center Street, with the northern portion of town, Cedar Point and portions of Ucolo and South Monticello in the district currently represented by Merri Shumway.

Blanding voters south of Center Street will be in the district currently represented by Debbie Christiansen, in addition to voters in White Mesa and portions of the Bluff precinct. The western edges of Blanding will be included in the district currently represented by Nelson Yellowman.

Voting district maps can be viewed at the San Juan Record website at www.sjrnews.com. Please contact San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson for specific details.

In the third lawsuit, the Navajo Nation argues that mail-only ballots could discriminate against Navajo voters. San Juan County moved to mail-only ballots for all voters in 2014. The change was met with mixed reviews, with particular concern expressed about the process in south county precincts and chapters.

The San Juan County Commission and County Clerk John David Nielson have yet to announce how they will handle the ballots for the 2016 election. However, it is likely that changes will be made before the primary and general elections.

For the first time, candidates can earn a spot on the primary election ballot through the caucus and convention system or they can submit petitions with the signature of voters.

The neighborhood caucuses, which will take place on March 22, will feature a number of changes.

The presidential delegates will be determined through the caucus rather than through a primary election.

Republicans can participate in the Republican party events either in person or online. They should register to vote online by March 15.

Voters can express their presidential preference in person at the Democratic caucus meetings.

You do not need to be a member of the Democrat party to participate in the Democrat caucus.
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