Tribal leaders in Nevada asked a U.S. judge Wednesday to order the state and two counties to establish satellite polling places on reservations where they say Native Americans are being denied an equal opportunity to vote in the November elections. Two Paiute tribes filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Reno accusing Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Washoe and Mineral counties of discriminating by illegally refusing tribe members voting access afforded to people in wealthier, mostly white neighborhoods. Members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe living in Washoe County say they must travel 96 miles roundtrip to register to vote or to cast ballots in person in Sparks.
Members of the Walker River Paiute Tribe in rural Mineral County say they have to go 70 miles roundtrip to Hawthorne.
The lawsuit says that’s twice as far as voters who live on Lake Tahoe’s affluent north shore would have to travel to vote if the county had not set up a satellite poll in upscale Incline Village. As a result, both tribes say their rights are being violated under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. and Nevada constitutions.