Tribal-voting advocates are pressuring South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant to approve the release of federal funds for satellite voting centers to serve Native American voters in 2014. Four Directions Inc., a Native American voting rights group based on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, asked the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday to investigate Gant’s refusal to release Help America Vote Act funds for voting centers at Wanblee, Eagle Butte and Fort Thompson. Four Directions also wants DOJ to investigate the recent refusal to support the satellite requests by the state Board of Elections on a 4-3 vote with Gant leading and voting with the opposition. Four Directions Executive Director O.J. Semans attacked those decisions in his letter to the DOJ, saying they reflected ongoing inequality in voting access for tribal people. Semans wrote “it should cause you and everyone who cares about equal access to the ballot box for Native Americans grave concern that this denial is steeped in an intent to discriminate.”
… Gant continues to argue that it’s unclear whether HAVA money can be used for satellite offices in incorporated counties that have their own courthouses. Previous use of the funding was in Shannon and Todd Counties, which are unincorporated and rely on courthouses in adjoining Fall River and Tripp counties. “I am unsure on whether these funds can be used in this manner,” Gant said. “And that is why I’m asking the Election Assistance Commission if they have any guidance.”
… Viken said Gant’s letter to the EAC was a “meaningless gesture” that only delays a decision on releasing the funds that Gant could make already. “The old saying is justice delayed is justice denied,” she said. “And that’s what this would amount to if we don’t find some alternative for an answer to this request.”
Four Directions consultant Bret Healy put it more emphatically. “You can’t have your state’s chief elections officer knowingly sending a letter for advice to a dead agency,” Healy said. “He might as well be writing Santa Claus, because he’s got a better chance of getting a response than with the EAC.”
The EAC’s four commissioner slots have been vacant for several years, and it is unable to muster a quorum to conduct business thanks to congressional bickering.
Full Article: Push for satellite voting centers intensifies.