South Dakota Voter Registration

South Dakota 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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Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (US Supreme Court)

Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (US Supreme Court)

On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court released a decision in Brnovich v. DNC that upheld two Arizona voting policies that make it harder for people—and especially people of color and Native Americans—to vote. NARF Staff Attorney Jacqueline De León reacted, “Today’s decision acknowledged the inequitable burden created by Arizona’s laws, including specifically upon Native voters, but indicated that it was not inequitable enough to matter. Since when have our American ideals been that discriminatory policy is okay as long as it is just a little discrimination? It is now up to Congress to clearly defend the ideal that every vote and every voice…
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Montana 2021 Laws

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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Blackfeet Nation Voting Access

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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Nevada Voter Protections

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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Montana Ballot Collection Law

Montana 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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Alaska Ballot Witness Law

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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North Dakota voter ID law

North Dakota voter ID law

On April 24, 2017, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed House Bill 1369.  This restrictive voter ID law put North Dakota beyond the norms of voter ID laws and violated the constitutional rights of the state’s citizens. Just like North Dakota’s previous law, which was found unconstitutional by a federal court, this law made it harder for some citizens—specifically Native American citizens—to exercise their right to vote.  Despite a nationwide outcry during the 2018 election cycle, North Dakota’s discriminatory voter ID law remained on the books. Finally, in February 2020, the Secretary of State agreed to settle two federal voting…
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