Getting a Picture of Voting in Indian Country Today
Categories: Civil Rights/ Voting Rights
In September 2017, the Native American Voting Rights Coalition (NAVRC) began holding field hearings across the country. These hearings will document the unique needs and challenges faced by Native voters and identify successes to replicate. Information from the hearings will help promote public education, identify policy solutions, and advance other legal remedies to expand Native access to voting.
NAVRC will hold approximately one dozen hearings in eight regions of the country where there are federally recognized tribes. (Field hearings will not be held in Alaska or Hawaii.) National, regional, and local partners are working with NAVRC to coordinate the hearings and identify and recruit witnesses.
Witnesses include a wide range of tribal leaders, advocates, and voters. They are sharing their experiences with voter registration and voting in federal, state, and local (non-tribal) elections. Issues being identified in the hearings include access to voter registration and voting sites, early voting, poll worker opportunities, treatment at the polls, voter identification requirements, redistricting, language barriers, and other obstacles that might prevent Native Americans from being able to participate fully and effectively in the political process.
Past Field Hearings
- Midwestern field hearing, Bismarck, ND; September 5, 2017
- Great Lakes field hearing, Milwaukee, WI; October 16, 2017
- Desert Southwest field hearing, Phoenix, AZ; January 11, 2018
- Pacific Northwest field hearing, Portland, OR; January 24, 2018
- Southern California field hearing,
Valley Center, CA; February 5, 2018
- Southern Plains field hearing, Tulsa, OK; February 23, 2018
- Southwestern field hearing, Albuquerque, NM; March 9, 2018
- Northern California field hearing, Sacramento, CA; April 5, 2018
- Navajo Nation field hearing, Tuba City, AZ; April 25, 2018
Why are the hearings being held at so many locations?
Field hearings are the most efficient way to learn about barriers that voters face in Indian Country: directly from tribal leaders, voters, and organizers on the ground. Many reservations are geographically, linguistically, and culturally isolated from the rest of the population. Native voters living on and off the reservation often lack adequate resources for their basic needs, including transportation and modern means of communication. Broadband penetration has occurred on fewer than ten percent of all reservations. In-person meetings on or near reservations are the most effective way of reaching out to Native voters in remote areas.
How can I learn more about the field hearings including opportunities to testify and submission of written testimony?
Who should I contact if I need help with a voting issue or if I’d like to report a voting rights problem?
NARF Senior Staff Attorney
745 W. 4th Ave., Suite 502
Anchorage, AK 99501-1736
NARF Staff Attorney
Boulder, CO 80302-6296
|Jacqueline De León
NARF Voting Rights Fellow
Boulder, CO 80302-6296
Who should the media contact to coordinate coverage of the field hearings?
Dan Lewerenz, NARF Staff Attorney
Native American Rights Fund
1514 P Street, NW (Rear) Suite D
Washington, DC 20005
Native American Voting Rights Coalition
The Native American Voting Rights Coalition is a non-partisan alliance of national and grassroots organizations, scholars, and activists advocating for equal access for Native Americans to the political process. Learn more about the Native American Voting Rights Coalition.