House Hearing Focuses on Native American Voter Disenfranchisement
Native American voter disenfranchisement and suppression in North Dakota and South Dakota will be the topic of a House Elections Subcommittee field hearing today at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council Building in North Dakota. Native leaders and advocates from the states are expected to press the Committee, chaired by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH), about the need to strengthen the voices of the first Americans. In South Dakota, Alfred Bone Shirt and three other Native Americans alleged in a lawsuit backed by the ACLU that the state legislature's redistricting packed Native Americans into a single legislative district. The court ruled that South Dakota violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by drafting a redistricting plan that dilutes the voting power of Native Americans. This was the latest in a string of lawsuits alleging voter disenfranchisement in the state. And regular Beat readers will recall that in North Dakota, Native American voters were left scrambling before last year's general election after the Supreme Court declined to overturn the state's voter ID law that requires residents to show at their polling location identification listing a current street address, as the Argus Leader’s Lisa Kaczke reports. Many Native Americans have post office boxes for their mailing address and use tribal identification that doesn't list an address. In November, Ruth Buffalo made history by becoming the first Native woman Democrat elected to the North Dakota Legislature by challenging the Republican male legislator who sponsored a voter identification law. She will be among the witnesses testifying. Witnesses from the South Dakota side include O.J. Semans, a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who serves as Co-Director of Four Directions, a group that advocates for Native "equality" at the ballot box. He plans to testify about the need to place polling locations in Indian Country. The committee will hold a hearing on the similar voting challenges in North Carolina on Thursday. More here.