The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and Alaska have jointly announced an agreement that requires the state to provide translation of election materials and ballots into Gwich’in and several Yup’ik dialects. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason, who presided over the lawsuit that resulted in the settlement, also ordered increased bilingual training for election workers, expanded collaboration with Native language experts and tribal councils, meaningful outreach to voters, and additional help for those with limited English-language proficiency. Alaska Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, who is of Tlingit heritage, called the agreement “historic.” He said it “will strengthen our election process, so that voters can have the opportunity to understand fully all voting information before they vote.”
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act mandates the assistance just won in Alaska. However, some governments, such as Alaska’s in years past, have avoided providing it. It took two major language-assistance lawsuits to achieve the current success, noted plaintiffs’ attorney, James Tucker, of Armstrong Teasdale, in Las Vegas.
“This is a very big deal,” said lead plaintiff Mike Toyukak, who is Yup’ik from Manokotak Village. He thanked the lieutenant governor for facilitating the sweeping changes. (Mallott, who won office in 2014, inherited the lawsuit, which was filed against his predecessor, Mead Treadwell, as Toyukak v. Treadwell; it is now known as Toyukak v. Mallott.)
Full Article: Historic Voting-Rights Win in Alaska – ICTMN.com.