San Juan Canton admiral arguable Wednesday that the federal cloister is assertive to discriminate adjoin white voters in the sprawling southeast Utah county.
That altercation is in acknowledgment to anew proposed voting commune boundaries for canton agency and academy board. The voting commune maps adopted by an able appointed by U.S. Commune Adjudicator Robert Shelby would accord Navajos a cogent majority of voters in two of three agency districts and three of bristles academy lath districts.
If Shelby were to accept the maps, it could about-face the celebrated political ascendancy by whites over Navajos in San Jaun County.
That would bulk to actionable gerrymandering, argued Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City-based advocate apery San Juan County. He recommended that Shelby bung the map and alpha the action over.
“The results, in my mind, are suspicious,” Trentadue told the judge. “He [the expert] has the accountability to appearance how he accomplished those after-effects after demography chase into account.”
The adjudicator didn’t agree, adage anyone proposing a apriorism in court, such as Trentadue had, charge aback it up with evidence.
According to the abuttals proposal, Canton Agency Commune 1 would accept an American Indian citizenry of 11.1 percent. Commune 2 would accept an American Indian citizenry of 65.6 percent. And Commune 3 would accept an American Indian citizenry of 79.9 percent.
The Navajo Nation filed clothing in January 2012, alleging that San Juan Canton is in abuse of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by ensuring that non-Indian voters authority majorities on the agency and academy boards.
Last year, Shelby disqualified the voting districts in San Juan County, which today is home to 16,895 residents, are actionable and breach the rights of American Indians. He ordered the canton to alter them.
In June, Shelby declared the county’s new proposals did not accommodated acknowledged mandates. He again appointed Bernard Grofman, a assistant of political science at the University of California, Irvine, to alter them.
Grofman created three abeyant maps for new canton agency voting boundaries, and two for the academy board. After a brace of accessible hearings in San Juan Canton aftermost month, Grofman called one map for anniversary body.
San Juan Canton is at atomic 50 percent American Indian and 47 percent white, according to the best contempo data.
Trentadue argued Wednesday that it’s arbitrary that 47 percent of the citizenry should accept aloof one adumbrative on the commission. “It does’t canyon the aroma test,” he said.
Trentadue additionally maintained that Navajos vote for Democrats and that whites vote Republican. As such, the proposed “gerrymandering” is both political and racial, he said.
Nonetheless, for San Juan County’s altercation to authority up, Shelby said it would accept to appearance a abiding bigotry adjoin white voters. Quite the contrary, the adjudicator said, the county’s history is that there has been no time back whites didn’t ascendancy the canton agency and academy board.
“Can San Juan Canton appearance that white citizens will accept beneath befalling to participate in the political action in San Juan Canton [under the proposal]?” he asked.
There is no affirmation that white association of San Juan Canton accept been discriminated against, said Steven Boos, a Durango, Colorado-based advocate apery the Navajo Nation.
“That may be the case some day,” Boos said. “But there is no affirmation of that in the abbreviate term.”
Further, Boos said that Grofman’s redistricting followed the law and is not based on race.
“All that is actuality offered [by San Juan County] is a suspicion that happened, but no specific facts,” Boos said. The proposed maps, based on 2010 demography abstracts “have actual little to do with race.”
According to Grofman’s address to the court, the proposed voting commune maps are based on demography cartography in an accomplishment not to bisect communities with abuttals lines.
“The affairs are fatigued from a acceptable government angle in which chase was not a best motive,” he said.
San Juan County’s accessory agency already was adopted at large. The three agency districts were created as allotment of a 1984 federal cloister accord decree — the aftereffect of an beforehand cloister action by Navajos to accretion representation on the panel.
Mark Maryboy became the aboriginal Navajo adopted to the agency and took appointment in the mid-1980s. He served four terms. His brother Kenneth Maryboy was again adopted to that Commune 3 bench and served for two terms.
Rebecca Benally now holds what has become the Navajo seat. Adams represents Commune 1, and Phil Lyman hails from Commune 2.
Shelby had said he would aphorism anon but gave no specific date.
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