For the Navajo Nation, ‘Everything Takes Time,’ Including Voting

But the biggest challenge is still ahead. Many of these voters, plus thousands more across the reservation, are now requesting mail-in ballots — and while there are several ways Arizonans can submit ballots, none are easily accessible on the reservation.

There is only one postal location per 681 square miles on the reservation, compared with one per 15 square miles in Scottsdale, according to an expert report filed in the Yazzie v. Hobbs lawsuit by Bret Healy, a consultant for Four Directions, and Jean Schroedel, a professor of public policy at Claremont Graduate University.

Early-voting sites accept mail ballots, but there is only one per 1,532 square miles on the reservation, compared with one per 17 square miles in Scottsdale, the report found. Election Day voting sites are one per 306 square miles on the reservation compared with one per 13 square miles in Scottsdale. And there are few ballot drop boxes on the reservation, even though Mr. Nez’s administration has asked county officials to add more.

Voters can also submit ballots at county recorders’ offices, but there are none on the reservation, which spreads over three counties. The Coconino County office, in Flagstaff, is about 80 miles from Tuba City, the county’s largest on-reservation community. The Navajo County office, in Holbrook, is more than 170 miles from its largest on-reservation community, Kayenta. And the Apache County office, in St. Johns, is more than 130 miles from its largest on-reservation community, Chinle.

For Navajo voters, “There isn’t a single ballot delivery system in Arizona that is even close to equal,” Mr. Healy said. “These aren’t geographical accidents — why the postal sites are where they are and that there are so few of them — and it’s not an accident of geography where the county seats are. That fundamental, unequal access is a result of politics.”