Conditions such as distance, health, weather, income and a history of discrimination in voting are some of the reasons why satellite offices on American Indian reservations would help with late registration and in-person absentee voting, according to a recent study prepared for two Indian voting rights groups. The 47-page study, “An analysis of factors that result in vote denial for American Indian voters living on reservations in Montana,” has been forwarded to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch by Four Directions and the Indian People’s Actions. The report was commissioned shortly after McCulloch issued a directive Oct. 19 that Montana counties must establish satellite voting offices for in-person absentee voting and later-voter registration for the 2016 general election. Bret Healy, a consultant with Four Directions, a South Dakota-based Indian voting rights organization, said the report is a comprehensive look at the reservations and encouraged counties to read it.
“She gave them the opportunity to do the right thing,” he said about McCulloch’s directive, adding most Montana counties likely do not have capacity to evaluate the Voters Rights Act of 1965 or the will to comply.
“She has the authority to tell them to do it,” he said.
Healy said a major point in the study is that partial equality is not enough and that fully equal satellite offices should be placed on reservations.
Blair Fjeseth, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office, said they received the report and are still working with counties and tribal governments “to make sure voters have access to these offices where they are needed.”
Full Article: Report details challenges facing Indian voters.