Native Americans

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National: Native American Rights Groups Are Gearing Up to Fight Voter Suppression in 2020 | Pacific Standard

Native American rights advocates who went to bat against voter suppression and disenfranchisement in last year’s mid-term elections—and championed unprecedented voter turnout—are gearing up to renew their fight in key battleground states ahead of the already fraught 2020 presidential elections. “We are looking at mobilizing five, maybe six states” with significant Native American populations and where there have been concerns over voter access and turnout, says OJ Semans, co-director of Four Directions voting rights advocacy group. Semans is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Last year, Semans worked to ensure Native American voters across the country had access to the polls. Among his group’s successes was the mobilization of an unprecedented number of Native American voters in North Dakota for the 2018 mid-terms. In his preparation for the 2020 elections, he’s setting his sights on Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina.

Full Article: Native American Rights Groups Are Gearing Up to Fight Voter Suppression in 2020 - Pacific Standard.

Washington: Legislature considers removing barriers to voting on reservations | The Spokesman-Review

Washington could remove barriers to registering to vote and casting ballots on reservations, where voter participation is lower than the rest of the state. Committees in the House and Senate on Wednesday considered identical versions of the Native American Voting Rights Act, which would allow tribal members with nontraditional addresses to register and be mailed ballots and allow tribes to request more drop boxes. Problems with addresses and distant drop boxes prevent tribal members from registering and voting, said Alex Hur, who represents One America and Washington Voting Justice Coalition.

Full Article: Washington Legislature considers removing barriers to voting on reservations | The Spokesman-Review.

Washington: Native American voting rights bill proposed ahead of upcoming legislative session | WNPA

A proposed bill would allow the residential address portion of a voter registration form to be filled out with a nontraditional address. Democrat majority caucus chair, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, pre-filed SB 5079, titled The Native American voting rights act of Washington. “The Washington state Legislature has a chance to rectify historical wrongs with the passage of the Native American Voting Rights Act. In doing so, we will send a loud and simple message to the Native community: we recognize that civic participation as we know it today began with American Indians, and as sovereign citizens of the United States you have the right to have your voice heard at every level of government,” said McCoy.

Full Article: Native American voting rights bill proposed ahead of upcoming legislative session | Sequim Gazette.

North Dakota: Attorney General asks judge to dismiss tribe’s voter ID lawsuit | Associated Press

North Dakota has asked a federal judge to dismiss a Native American tribe’s lawsuit challenging the state’s voter identification requirements, saying in part that tribal members named in the complaint weren’t impeded from voting on Election Day. The attorney general’s office in a Monday filing also argued that the state is immune from such lawsuits in U.S. District Court and that the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe doesn’t have standing to sue for several reasons, including that it’s unclear how the tribe might be affected by the inability of any members to vote. Even if that were clear, attorneys said, the tribe “is not representing the interests of all of its members, merely a select few.”

Full Article: North Dakota asks judge to dismiss tribe's voter ID lawsuit | National | dailyjournalonline.com.

Arizona: Navajo Nation drops claim that would delay certification of Arizona election results | Arizona Daily Star

The Navajo Nation has dropped a legal claim that could have delayed formal certification of the general election results. But the tribe still contends early voting procedures used in three Arizona counties violate the rights of tribal residents. And an attorney for the tribe, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, said Monday that unless there is a deal, they will be back in court. At a brief hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge Dominic Lanza agreed to essentially put the legal dispute on the back burner. In a blistering statement from the bench, however, the judge blasted the tribe’s attorneys for waiting until this past Tuesday to file suit for a temporary restraining order on a narrow issue that would have delayed announcing a final vote tally for all races statewide.

Full Article: Navajo Nation drops claim that would delay certification of Arizona election results | Local news | tucson.com.

Arizona: Navajos seek court order to fix early ballots | Associated Press

The Navajo Nation is seeking a court order to allow tribal members to fix problems with signatures on early ballots in Arizona’s general election — a request that could delay the state from certifying ballots next month. Voters statewide were given more time to address mismatched signatures after Republicans alleged in a lawsuit that Maricopa and Pima counties contacted voters illegally after Election Day about signatures on ballot envelopes that didn’t match those on the voter file. A lawsuit filed this week by the largest American Indian reservation makes a broader argument to count ballots that Navajos properly filled out but didn’t sign. It alleges Navajos have fewer opportunities to participate in early voting and not enough translators to tell tribal members with limited or no English proficiency how to complete early ballots so they aren’t thrown out. The tribe said more than 100 votes cast by Navajos were disqualified.

Full Article: Navajos seek court order to fix early ballots | News | mohavedailynews.com.

National: Native Americans Voting In 2018 Are Confronting Barriers — And It’s Not Just Voter ID | Bustle

Voting rights organizations are making a final push to get out the vote with just a week to go until the midterm elections. In North Dakota, those efforts have taken on greater urgency because a new voter ID law will be in effect come Nov. 6. Tribes and advocacy groups are on a mission to overcome longstanding obstacles that have hindered Native Americans’ right to vote and ensure their communities have access to the ballot box. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court decided that it would allow North Dakota’s voter ID law to stand. That means voters will be required to present identification showing their street addresses when they vote at their polling place. There’s one glaring problem with that requirement: Native Americans who live on reservations in North Dakota don’t necessarily have street addresses. They typically use P.O. boxes instead, which are listed on their IDs.

Full Article: Native Americans Voting In 2018 Are Confronting Barriers — And It's Not Just Voter ID.

North Dakota: Native Americans Try to Turn an ID Law to Their Advantage | The New York Times

Nobody in the squat yellow house serving as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s get-out-the-vote headquarters knew its address. It was on Red Tail Hawk Avenue; they knew that much. But the number was anyone’s guess. Phyllis Young, a longtime tribal activist leading the voter-outreach effort, said it had fallen off the side of the house at some point. Her own home has a number only because she added one with permanent marker. This is normal on Native American reservations. Buildings lack numbers; streets lack signs. Even when a house has an address in official records, residents don’t necessarily know what it is. “We know our communities based off our communities,” said Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn, a Standing Rock spokeswoman and tribal judge. “We know, ‘Hey, that’s so-and-so’s house; you go two houses down and that’s the correct place you need to be.’”

Full Article: In North Dakota, Native Americans Try to Turn an ID Law to Their Advantage - The New York Times.

North Dakota: Voter ID Law Could Stop Native Americans From Voting in Key Senate Race | Newsweek

Native American residents of North Dakota have been left scrambling to meet a controversial voter ID requirement that could render many ineligible to vote in the upcoming November mid-term elections. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to overturn the GOP-backed voter law, which requires North Dakotans to show identification with their current street address. As many Native American reservations do not use physical street addresses, the law makes it difficult for thousands of people to cast their ballots. While Native American residents do often use PO boxes as mailing addresses, PO boxes do not qualify as proof of residency under the voter ID law. As a result, many voters will have to make the effort to obtain identification or documents, such as a tribal voting letter issued by tribal officials, that provide proof of a residential address.

Full Article: GOP-backed ID Law Could Stop Native Americans From Voting in Key Senate Race.

North Dakota: Tribes scramble to meet voter ID requirements in North Dakota | CBS

Locating a house isn’t easy on the isolated and impoverished Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota, and that’s making it more difficult for residents and their counterparts on other reservations in the state to vote this election. To cast a ballot, they need identification with a provable street address — something that isn’t important to the 19,000 people who live on the remote 72-square-mile block of land where most streets have no signs. In their culture, they’ve never needed them. Tribal activist Wes Davis, 37, an official at the local community college and a lifelong reservation resident, describes where he lives this way — to the west of a gas station on the east side of town, behind the high school and across the road from another store.

Full Article: Tribes scramble to meet voter ID requirements in North Dakota - CBS News.

North Dakota: Voter ID Law Could Keep Rural Native Americans From Voting | WBUR

The Supreme Court declined this month to overturn a North Dakota law that requires voters to present an ID listing their residential address at the polls. The decision could have a negative impact on tens of thousands of rural voters — many of them Native Americans who live on one of the states five reservations, where residents are not required to have a street address. Native Americans have long faced unique challenges relating to voter suppression. They were the last to gain suffrage in 1924 and couldn’t vote in states like Arizona, New Mexico and Utah until 1948.

Full Article: North Dakota Voter ID Law Could Keep Rural Native Americans From Voting | Here & Now.

North Dakota: A Look at Where North Dakota’s Voter ID Controversy Stands | The New York Times

North Dakota is home to one of the most important Senate races of 2018, and less than three weeks before Election Day, it’s embroiled in a fierce battle over who will be able to participate. nOn Oct. 9, the Supreme Court allowed a new state voter identification requirement to take effect, meaning North Dakotans will be voting under different rules than in the primaries just a few months ago. The change disproportionately affects Native Americans, and tribal leaders and advocacy groups have spent the past week and a half scrambling. In a recent letter to the North Dakota secretary of state, one group called the state’s current process unworkable and proposed a solution, but the secretary of state would not endorse it. It is an extraordinary situation: the electoral process thrown into chaos at the last minute in a state that will help decide which party controls the Senate. Here’s a look at where things stand.

Full Article: A Look at Where North Dakota’s Voter ID Controversy Stands - The New York Times.

North Dakota: Native Americans Decry Supreme Court Ruling on Voter ID in North Dakota | VoA News

Civil rights groups are expressing outrage over a recent Supreme Court ruling that could make it harder for Native Americans in North Dakota to cast their votes in the upcoming midterm elections. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled against overturning North Dakota’s controversial voter ID law which requires voters to present identification that verifies a current residential street address. Proponents of the law say it will help prevent voter fraud. Opponents say it will prevent many Native Americans from voting. “Addressing on reservations and in rural Native American communities is spotty,” Jacqueline D. De Leon, a member of the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico and an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), told VOA in August.

Full Article: Native Americans Decry Supreme Court Ruling on Voter ID in North Dakota.

National: What stands in the way of Native American voters? | Center for Public Integrity

Two years ago, when Chase Iron Eyes decided to run for Congress, he knew he had, as he puts it, “a snowball’s chance in hell” of winning. But Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, still saw the narrowest of paths to victory in the race for North Dakota’s sole congressional seat. If he and the two other Native American candidates running for state offices as Democratic nominees were able to boost Native American voter turnout while simultaneously convincing independent-minded undecided voters to break their way, he explained, he thought he might win. Instead, incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, coasted to another term by a huge margin.  

Full Article: What stands in the way of Native American voters? | Center for Public Integrity.

North Dakota: ​State strips then delays Native voting rights | High Plains Reader

Men in state government and on the U.S. Supreme Court crippled Native suffrage recently, but women are leading the fight to bring Native votes in record numbers to the polls. Some women are offering rides on Election Day to Natives lacking transportation. Others are filming videos on social media trying to explain what Native people need to prepare for ahead of time. Secretary of State promises to handle address switches from a post office box to a physical address are failing as multiple sources have reported waiting for three weeks to hear back from a county 911 coordinator. On October 9 the U.S. Supreme court voted 6 – 2 to disallow post office boxes as valid addresses to use while voting in North Dakota. All identification papers must have a physical address, which means many Native IDs are useless.

Full Article: ​State strips then delays Native voting rights | High Plains Reader, Fargo ND.

North Dakota: Officials Tell Tribes of Election Requirements | Associated Press

North Dakota is going ahead with requiring residents to provide a street address in order to vote on Election Day, even though some American Indian tribes have argued in federal court that they sometimes aren’t assigned on reservations. Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office notified the state’s five tribes by email late Friday of North Dakota voter ID requirements. The email said obtaining a residential street address is a quick and no-cost process that can be done by notifying 911 coordinators in any of North Dakota’s 53 counties. A file containing a downloadable poster was attached to the email. “The effort is to educate people who vote and how to comply with the law,” Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said Monday.

Full Article: North Dakota Officials Tell Tribes of Election Requirements.

National: Native Americans Fight Back at the Ballot Box | Stateline

Tara Benally and her 16-year-old son Delaney After Buffalo set up a plastic table alongside the last dusty highway intersection before the Arizona state line. Here in Monument Valley, in the shadows of the towering red rock monoliths sacred among the Navajo, the two are doing something that’s rarely been done in this part of Utah: conducting a voter registration drive for local Native Americans. For the first time, Navajo and Utes living here have a chance at being fully represented at the local level when they vote in November. Even though Native Americans are the majority in this 14,750-person county, slightly edging out whites, county commissioner and school board district lines were gerrymandered to give white voters disproportionate power for more than three decades.

Full Article: Native Americans Fight Back at the Ballot Box | The Pew Charitable Trusts.

National: Native Americans Work to Break Down Barriers to Voting | VoA News

In November 2012, former North Dakota attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, won a hotly-contested race for a seat in the U.S. Senate, a win attributed to the state’s Native American voters. Shortly after that, lawmakers in the majority Republican state passed a tough voter-ID law, making it a lot harder for tribe members to vote. The nonprofit Native American Rights Fund (NARF) sees the new law as racially motivated and has taken North Dakota to court. This year, NARF conducted field hearings across Indian Country to hear testimony on voter suppression in other states. “And what we heard was really disturbing,” said NARF attorney Jacqueline D. De León, a member of the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico.

Full Article: Native Americans Work to Break Down Barriers to Voting.

National: Tribal leaders tell Senate voting barriers are persistent, systemic | Cronkite News

Native Americans have been “systematically denied access to fair representation” as a result of persistent barriers to voting, advocates and tribal leaders told a Senate roundtable Tuesday. Witnesses told the informal meeting of senators from the Indian Affairs and Rules committees that tribal voters face a range of challenges, from language barriers, to restrictions with mail-in ballots and lack of access to voting locations. Many of those issues are rooted in “blatant discrimination,” one speaker said. “We should not have to talk about blatant discrimination,” said Jackson Brossy, the executive director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office. “Here we are in 2018. We still face many, many unacceptable barriers to voting for Navajo people.”

Full Article: Tribal leaders tell Senate voting barriers are persistent, systemic | Cronkite News - Arizona PBS.

Utah: Navajo Nation files election complaint against San Juan County over primary races | KSTU

The Navajo Nation’s Human Rights Commission has filed an election complaint against San Juan County over incidents during the June 26 primary. County officials, in turn, have accused the Navajo Nation of “harassment.” It’s the latest salvo between the two sides in a contentious legal battle over elections in the Four Corners area. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby has ordered a special election for county commission and school board seats after he found racial gerrymandering took place. The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission said it had two poll watchers in Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley, monitoring interactions between voters and poll workers.

Full Article: Navajo Nation files election complaint against San Juan Co. over primary races | fox13now.com.