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Litigation: Challenging New Proof of Address Requirements in Arizona

Litigation: Challenging New Proof of Address Requirements in Arizona

The Tohono O’odham Nation, Gila River Indian Community, and future Native voters filed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that would make it difficult to impossible for many tribal citizens to vote. Under the new law, individuals must provide a government-issued photo ID that contains or is paired with another document that contains the person’s current physical address, or the individual must provide two documents that contain their current physical address. The requirements ignore the lack of standardized addressing on homes on tribal lands in Arizona. Read more about Tohono O'odham Nation v. Brnovich on the NARF Website.
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Litigation: North Dakota, Benson County Redistricting

Litigation: North Dakota, Benson County Redistricting

The Spirit Lake Tribe and two individual voters filed a lawsuit against Benson County, North Dakota, for adopting a redistricting plan that violates the rights of Native voters. In response to a Native population increase of 17% that would have required creating at least two Native majority districts, Benson County abandoned its previous district system altogether. The North Dakota county adopted an at-large voting system that prevents the increased number of Native votes from having an impact in elections, while subject to a consent decree issued in 2000, that prevented the county from adopting an at-large voting system to avoid…
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Litigation: Challenging an Attempt to Delay Redistricting

Litigation: Challenging an Attempt to Delay Redistricting

While over 40% of Lyman County, South Dakota, voters live on the Lower Brule Reservation, an at-large election system made it impossible for Lower Brule Sioux Tribe reservation voters to elect local representation for 30 years. Individual voters and the Tribe filed a lawsuit in May 2022 after the county adopted a 2020 redistricting cycle plan that would delay any opportunity for representation until 2026. Read more about the successfully settled Lower Brule Sioux Tribe et al v. Lyman County et al case on the NARF website. (Photo of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Reservation courtesy of the Lower Brule Sioux…
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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. On September 30, 2022, a Montana court  struck down as unconstitutional the two state laws that hinder Native American participation in the state’s electoral process.  Read…
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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: 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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Testimony on Native American Voting Rights

Testimony on Native American Voting Rights

Over the years, NARF staff have provided expert testimony to state and federal legislators to help them understand the unique experiences of Native American voters. Much of our testimony is based on the findings included in our report,  Obstacles at Every Turn: Barriers to Political Participation Faced by Native American Voters. October 27, 2021Oversight Hearing on “Voting Matters in Native Communities.” Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. October 20, 2021Restoring the Voting Rights Act: Protecting the Native American and Alaska Native Vote. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on the Constitution. May 24, 2021Voting In America: The Potential For Voter ID Laws, Proof-Of-Citizenship…
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Webinar: A Conversation on Voting Rights in Indian Country

In this first-of-its-kind online conversation, NARF legal experts Natalie Landreth (Chickasaw) and Jacqueline De León (Isleta Pueblo) discuss the historic struggles of Native people to vote, the legal fights to access the ballot and be represented, and why voices for racial justice are critical to our democracy. We discuss our new report Obstacles at Every Turn: Barriers to Political Participation Faced by Native American Voters, which provides detailed evidence of how Native people face obstacles at every turn in the electoral process: from registering to vote, to casting votes, to having votes counted.
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