Money spent by counties defending a 2012 lawsuit on Indian voting rights could have gone toward setting up satellite voting and alternative voting areas on reservations for years, Indian voting activists said. Blaine County paid $119,071 and Rosebud County paid $116,000 for outside legal counsel in the 2012 Wandering Medicine lawsuit, which was settled in 2014, a figure that could reach about $460,000 when combined with Bighorn County, which was also involved in the lawsuit, and the $100,000 paid to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, activists said. However, attorneys involved in the litigation say that is not the case. The $119,071 figure was released in a May 13 public records request to William “Snuffy” Main, a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe on the Fort Belknap Reservation, said attorney Sara Frankenstein of the South Dakota law firm of Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, who represented Blaine County in the lawsuit.
“Unfortunately, the plaintiffs’ counsels’ litigation tactics unnecessarily increased the cost of the litigation by an enormous margin,” she wrote.
“I was surprised,” Main said about the fee. “From the beginning I said the money they spent on litigation could have been used to set up voting offices and the costs of the voting offices would have been substantially less than spent on litigation.”
Frankenstein and Blaine County Attorney Kelsie Harwood said the technology, such as ballots on demand machines that print out ballots for specific voters, was not available at the time and said it would not have been possible to establish.
Full Article: Costs of Indian voting rights legal counsel released.