SCOTUS brief: Indian Country still needs the Voting Rights Act of 1965

SCOTUS brief: Indian Country still needs the Voting Rights Act of 1965

On July 18, 2022, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the United States Supreme Court case Merrill v. Milligan (21-1086), a case which examines whether the proposed Alabama redistricting plan violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The NCAI brief provides the Court with an account of the ongoing and critical need for Section 2 of the VRA to safeguard against Native American vote dilution caused by contemporary racial discrimination and voter suppression. This ongoing racial discrimination continues to impact Native Americans’ ability to elect…
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Litigation: South Dakota Lyman County Redistricting

Litigation: South Dakota Lyman County Redistricting

While over 40% of Lyman County, South Dakota, voters live on the Lower Brule Reservation, an unfair at-large voting system ensured reservation voters could never elect a single candidate of their choice to the Board of Commissioners. The county commissioners have historically had little relationship with Lower Brule and community members’ needs, not even managing to maintain a road that crosses into the reservation that it’s obligated to keep functional. On May 18, 2022, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and individual voters filed a lawsuit against the Lyman County Board of Commissioners for delaying the rollout of fair election districts. “Through…
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Litigation: Defending a Native-Voter Majority Subdistrict in North Dakota

Litigation: Defending a Native-Voter Majority Subdistrict in North Dakota

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and individual voters requested the Native American Rights Fund assist them in joining a lawsuit against two Republican officials seeking to eliminate the majority Native-voter state legislative subdistrict that encompasses the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota. The tribal government and Native voters seek to defend the subdistrict, which the state created during the 2020 redistricting process to comply with the Voting Rights Act. More about: Walen et al. v. Burgum et al.
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Litigation: North Dakota Redistricting

Litigation: North Dakota Redistricting

The Spirit Lake Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and several individual voters filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota challenging North Dakota’s state legislative map, as unlawfully diluting the voting rights of Native Americans in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and the Law Offices of Bryan Sells represent the plaintiffs in their suit. Robins Kaplan LLP represents the Spirit Lake Tribe. “In a process that is supposed to produce election boundaries that fairly and accurately reflect North…
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Litigation: SD Voter Registration

Litigation: SD Voter Registration

Under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), state public assistance agencies and motor vehicle offices are required to provide voter registration services when people are applying for services, renewing their eligibility, and providing change-of-address information. September 16, 2020, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and voting rights group Four Directions filed a federal court complaint against South Dakota officials for failing to offer voter registration services through state agencies serving the public, as mandated by the NVRA. On July 8, 2021, additional plaintiffs joined the lawsuit. NARF Staff Attorney Jacqueline De León commented, “We documented Native American residents routinely being underserved…
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Litigation: Montana 2021 Laws

Litigation: Montana 2021 Laws

In the final weeks of the legislative session, Montana legislators passed two laws that will hinder Native American participation in the state’s electoral process. A lawsuit filed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) on behalf of the Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Community, and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and by the ACLU and ACLU-MT on behalf of Western Native Vote and Montana Native Vote challenges two discriminatory voting laws. Read more about the case on the NARF website.
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Litigation: Blackfeet Nation Voting Access

Litigation: Blackfeet Nation Voting Access

Three days after the Blackfeet Nation brought a federal lawsuit against Pondera County arguing that the county was violating the voting rights of tribal members, Pondera County has agreed to make changes to make voting more accessible. Blackfeet Nation—represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the ACLU of Montana—claimed that Pondera County violated the U.S. Constitution, the Montana Constitution, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by failing to establish a satellite election office on the Blackfeet Reservation. The satellite office would provide in-person voter registration, in-person early voting, and Election Day voting. Days after the lawsuit was filed, Pondera…
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Litigation: Nevada Voter Protections

Litigation: Nevada Voter Protections

UPDATE: Great news! On Friday, September 18, 2020, the US District Court for the District of Nevada issued an order in Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., Republican National Committee, and Nevada Republican Party v. Cegavske. The case will not move forward at this time and the voter protections enacted by the State of Nevada will remain in place for the upcoming election. Tribal members in Nevada that do not get at-home mail delivery will be able to pick up and drop off ballots for each other without fear that they will be prosecuted. Slow mail routes will not prevent tribal…
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Litigation: Montana 2020 Ballot Collection Law

Litigation: Montana 2020 Ballot Collection Law

Update: In a great victory for Native voters living in Montana, on September 25, 2020, a Montana court permanently struck down BIPA, the state law that severely restricted the right to vote for indigenous people living on rural reservations. In a state where the majority of individuals vote by mail, rural tribal communities work with get-out-the-vote organizers who collect and transport ballots to election offices that would otherwise be inaccessible. These ballot collection efforts are often the only way Native Americans can access the vote. Montana's new law, which restricts ballot collection, would effectively end this practice, disenfranchising Native American voters en…
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Litigation: Alaska Ballot Witness Law

Litigation: Alaska Ballot Witness Law

VICTORY: Alaskans will not need a witness to sign their absentee ballots for the November general election because of COVID-19, the Alaska Supreme Court decided Monday, October 12. Alaska’s witness signature requirement for casting an absentee ballot is unconstitutional, and immediate injunctive and declaratory relief must be granted, a lawsuit filed on September 8, 2020 against Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer, Director of the Alaska Division of Elections Gail Fenumiai, and the Alaska Division of Elections argues. The lawsuit (Arctic Village Council, et al. v. Meyer) seeks to waive a provision of a state law for the upcoming general election that…
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