For decades, our voting system has disenfranchised and discriminated against Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Restrictive laws that require traditional street addresses and voter ID laws that do not accept tribal identification make voting registration difficult for Native Americans. Limited polling sites and resources require that Native Americans travel great distances to vote, sometimes up to 150 miles.
The federal government can do much more to establish greater support for Native American voting rights. As part of establishing laws to combat voter suppression tactics like voter ID laws and limited polling locations, we need to pass legislation like the Native American Voting Rights Act that carves out specific provisions that address Native American and Alaska Native voting issues. These specifics need to include requiring polling stations to be located near tribal reservations, states to accept tribal ID cards for voting purposes, and alternative address options for those who reside on tribal reservations.
Native Americans aren’t the only population impacted by a lack of polling stations. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, polling stations have been vanishing, especially in locations with high populations of minorities. In a city in Alabama, council members eliminated 60% of the polling locations within the nearby African American district, but left open 100% of the polls in the white-majority districts. Fewer polling stations substantially decreases voter turnout, and drastically increases long lines at the polling stations. In addition, last-minute changes to polling stations force voters to figure out where their new polling stations are and rearrange their transportation plans or schedules accordingly. These abrupt changes limit access to polling stations and deter Americans from showing up.
Problems to be Solved
- checkNative Americans and other minority communities often don’t have polling locations nearby.
- checkSome state legislatures actively seek to suppress minority voters by closing their polling stations.
- To preserve our national values and ensure our government functions properly, we must fight to guarantee that every American has not only the right to vote, but the resources to exercise those rights.
- checkEnsure no American has to travel great distances to exercise their democratic rights
- checkEnd voter suppression around minority communities
As President I will...
- Support passage of the Native American Voting Rights Act to extend greater federal support for Native American and Alaska Native voters.
- Require polling stations to be located within 20 miles of tribal reservations.
- Require states to provide address registration alternatives for tribal reservation residents.
- Limit last minute changes of polling stations to only situations of true exigent circumstances.