Tribal Leaders Detail Voting Challenges to Senate Panel
Tribal leaders told an informal meeting of Senators from the Indian Affairs and Rules committees this week that Native Americans have been “systematically denied access to fair representation” as a result of persistent barriers to voting. Witnesses told the lawmakers that tribal voters face a range of challenges, from language barriers, to restrictions with mail-in ballots and lack of access to voting locations. “We should not have to talk about blatant discrimination,” said Jackson Brossy, the Executive Director of the Navajo Nation DC office. “Here we are in 2018. We still face many, many unacceptable barriers to voting for Navajo people.” Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) said those barriers represent what he called an “insidious” effort to suppress the Native vote more than 50 years after passage of the Voting Rights Act. “To this day ... many states and local jurisdictions have found new, more insidious ways to impose barriers on Native access to the ballot box from voter ID laws to inadequate polling and registration sites, to lack of availability of Native language ballot materials,” Udall said. Witnesses said many members lack street addresses and instead use post office boxes, which can slow down or halt the voter registration process. Problems can also arise when tribal identification cards lack an address or when multiple families share one household and only one ballot is provided. The panel featured Native American representatives from Alaska to Arizona to Massachusetts. More here.