Every Native Vote Counts
Native nations have shown again and again they have enormous power to swing the vote. Just to name a few examples of a tribe’s votes determining an election winner:
- Maria Cantwell - WA 2000
- Tim Johnson - SD 2002
- Barack Obama - CO Primaries 2004
- Brad Henry - OK 2004
- John Tester- MT 2006
- Lisa Murkowski - AK 2010
- Heidi Heitkamp - ND 2012
There are over a million Native people currently eligible to vote who are not registered. Now before you go trying to figure out who to blame for not voting, consider this: There are very real challenges for Native peoples to vote.
For example: Poverty is widespread in Indian Country. On some reservations, people might have to travel 50-100 miles to get to a polling location, which is difficult considering many reservations don’t have public transportation system.
Another example: Tribes often distribute their own tribal IDs which tend to be relatively inexpensive, and for many Natives this is their sole form of ID. States don’t always recognize tribal IDs. Often times, you do not know if your ID will be accepted until you try to use it. So if your ID gets rejected on polling day, are you realistically going to have enough time (and money) to go get a new one?
These are the Key Native Vote States, meaning historically the Native Vote has had a strong impact on the election swing. Is your state listed?:
Real effort is needed to get Native voters registered, and to combat the challenges they might face in voting. Don’t just blame other people when an election doesn’t go your way–do something about it.
Native Vote Toolkit available at: NativeVote.org