A group of American Indians from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations sued state and county election officials in federal court on Wednesday, seeking equal access to voting through satellite offices. The lack of satellite election offices on reservations, the plaintiffs allege, forces Indians to drive long distances to vote at the county seat, is discriminatory and denies Indians their voting and civil rights under federal law and the U.S. and Montana constitutions. A few of the 15 plaintiffs and consultants assisting with the case gathered outside the federal courthouse in Billings on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Plaintiff Marty Other Bull, a Crow tribal member and registered voter who lives in Crow Agency, votes in person. While he has a greater opportunity to vote at the Big Horn County election office in Hardin, about 15 miles away, Other Bull said many tribal members in Wyola, Lodge Grass and Pryor have to travel farther. “For us to be traveling to Hardin, it’s a hardship for most of us. This is a good step to work together,” Other Bull said.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering state and county elections officers to locate satellite county offices with in-person absentee voting and late voter registration services in Fort Belknap, Lame Deer and Crow Agency for the full 30 days as authorized by Montana law for the 2012 general election and future elections. The suit names as defendants Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, Rosebud, Big Horn and Blaine counties along with the counties’ commissioners, clerks and recorders and election administrators.
Full Article: Tribal members sue for voting access.