The Justice Department is siding with two Nevada tribes’ interpretation of a key part of the U.S. Voting Rights Act at issue in a legal battle with state and county officials over minority access to the polls. Lawyers for the two Paiute tribes are scheduled to go before a federal judge in Reno Tuesday with their emergency request for a court order establishing satellite voting sites on their reservations before the November election. They accuse Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, Washoe and Mineral counties of illegally denying tribe members voting access afforded to people in wealthier, mostly white neighborhoods. The counties say the sudden change would cost too much, and the state argues it has no authority to intervene. But the Justice Department said in a new filing Monday all three appear to be confusing voting rights with “voting convenience.”
The suit filed Sept. 7 is the latest in a series of recent challenges brought by Native American tribes challenging access to the polls in mostly western states, including Utah, Montana, Alaska and the Dakotas.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du scheduled a hearing on the request for an emergency injunction for 9 a.m. Tuesday. It wasn’t clear when she would rule.