When Americans go to the polls this November to elect the next U.S. president, Native American groups worry that many of their members will be turned away from the ballot box. Native Americans won U.S. citizenship more than 90 years ago. Even so, many states denied them — as they did African Americans — the right to vote, subjecting them to poll taxes, literacy tests, harassment and intimidation. In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (VRA), banning such discriminatory practices and giving the federal government the authority to monitor elections to ensure they are fair. In 2013, however, the Supreme Court defeated a key provision in the VRA. As a result, certain states with a history of racial discrimination are no longer required to get pre-clearance from the Federal government before they can make changes to election systems.
Soon afterwards, states began to change the rules. Some argued that they acted to prevent non-U.S. citizens from voting. But Native Americans and other minority groups complain the new policies discourage them from voting.
Kansas, for example, passed a law requiring voter registrants to provide proof-of-citizenship documents such as birth or naturalization certificates or passports. Voters have 90 days to produce the documents before the state will remove them from the rolls altogether.
Arizona, which is home to one of the largest Native American populations, in 2014 placed more than 500 registered Navajo voters on what it called a “suspense list” because they lacked proper street addresses. Indeed, as the Nation noted in 2012, Arizona’s voter registration form includes a large box on which Navajo voters can draw the location of their home in order to determine their precinct.
Full Article: Native American Groups Defend Their Right to Vote.