The Justice Department is considering making a recommendation to Congress that would require any state or local election administrator whose territory includes part of an Indian reservation, an Alaska Native village or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by the tribal government. Associate Attorney General Tony West will announce the effort Monday morning at the National Congress of American Indians conference in Anchorage. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. also will release a video Monday that will announce the Obama administration’s plans to consult with tribal governments on a legislative proposal that would ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives have “a meaningful opportunity to claim their right to vote.”
“Standing by as Native voices, for whatever reason, are shut out of the democratic process is not an option,” West will say, according to a copy of his remarks, obtained by The Washington Post. “This proposal would give American Indian and Alaska Natives a polling place in their community, somewhere to cast their ballots and ensure their voices are heard — something unremarkable to most other citizens.”
Under the current system, the location of polling places is left in the hands of state and local governments, which decide how many polling places to have and where to locate them, Justice Department officials said. The plan the department is considering would ensure that Native American voters have a polling place in their communities.