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 masse. The Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Crow Tribe, and Fort Belknap Indian Community, as well as Western Native Voice and Montana Native Vote, Native American-led organizations focused on getting out the vote and increasing civic participation in the Native American community are challenging the so-called Montana Ballot Interference Prevention ACT (BIPA). The lawsuit, Western Native Voice v. Stapleton, was filed in the Montana 13th Judicial District Court in Yellowstone County. Fortunately, the plaintiffs succeeded in getting an injunction that temporarily stops BIPA from being enforced. The case went to trial in September 2020.