An historic election is under way in San Juan County.
Photos shared with FOX 13 showed people lined up outside a voting location in Monument Valley. A federal judge ordered a special election this year for county commission and school board after he found racial gerrymandering against Native Americans in political boundaries.
Native Americans (mostly Navajo) make up a majority population, but U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby found they were gerrymandered to be a political minority. He ordered the boundaries redrawn and a special election to be held this year.
San Juan County has repeatedly denied the findings of gerrymandering and is appealing the ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Arguments are scheduled for next week, after Election Day but before the final canvass.
The election could sweep in candidates with a more progressive tilt than the conservatives who ran before in a county embroiled by controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument. Willie Grayeyes, a candidate for county commission who was kicked off the ballot (and later ordered to be put on the ballot by a judge after he sued) is among those running.
Because of the political and legal stakes surrounding the issue, the ACLU of Utah, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and the U.S. Department of Justice have dispatched people to observe the elections.
San Juan County has insisted repeatedly it runs fair elections, and the county administrator told FOX 13 in a statement they had no problem with the oversight.
The ACLU told FOX 13 it has seen few problems so far on Election Day, but some people showed up not knowing they needed identification to vote. So a poll watcher put up a sign telling people to bring an ID — whether it’s a Utah issued one, or a tribal one.
Utah Elections Director Justin Lee also said he had seen few problems reported.