Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

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Transparency report

August is supposed to be a slow time in politics. Yeah, right. There is a lot going on between now and Labor Day when the political season traditionally kicks off.

I continue to be amazed by the readership for graphics. A story might earn 4 or 5,000 readers; a graphic that tells the same story has five or ten times more readers via social media. (Even these white boards get a viral audience.) So the message is clear: I need to tell more stories with graphics if I want to reach more people.

I’m thinking this week I may play around with infographics focusing on the individual #NativeVote16 candidates for Congress.

And, speaking of Congress, last week I posted a story about the number of primaries that involve #NativeVote16 candidates in August. One I missed was the U.S. Senate race in Alaska. Alaska’s primary is Aug. 16 and Edgar Blatchford is facing two other Democrats.

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One fascinating issue is the debate about buffalo (ok, bison, what ever) in Montana. I have some reporting to do — and I am Montana-bound now.

The data beat. I recently read a draft from a group that’s publishing a story on Native American voting history. The turnout numbers, at least to me, seem too low. So I am thinking, “what if I can create a spreadsheet that establishes a baseline for voter registration and turnout?” I am sure it’s a lot of work, but it could be useful as something that would provide both a snapshot and something to measure against in future elections. (I have been working on the national candidate list for months and every time I publish it, I get new names, so I know this one will be difficult.)

I have two essay ideas on my list. I may not get to them, but they are worth mentioning. The first is I want to write about complexity. We don’t get everything we want in a candidate, so how do we reach a conclusion about voting, the best choice, and how to push beyond election day? I’m also intrigued by the narrative from both the left and the right about “rigged” elections. U.S. elections are rigged, but not in the way that people are talking about. We have systemic issues that should be addressed. I wrote about this in May. How does a country deal with a rigged election?

Thanks for reading, sharing, and your interest in #NativeVote16. I’m always eager for your ideas, corrections and comments. –Mark Trahant

Last week’s idea list:

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