Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

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TrahantReports

If Indian Country is going to make a difference in this election there are details that need to be completed first.

Voter registration is easy. NativeVote.Org has an online set up here that is really easy to use.

And the September 26 – 30 is Native Vote Action Week. (Look for hashtag, #NativeVote16 for events and social media posts.)

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The National Conference of State Legislatures produces this chart of the different voting set-ups across the country.

A few states, including Alaska, require election registration 30-days before the election. Other states are 25 and 20. Here is the list, state by state.

In North Dakota a federal judge limited a strict voter identification law, one that the court said would have impacted 3,800 Native American voters.

“Voter fraud in North Dakota has been virtually non-existent,” said U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland. He was appointed by President George W. Bush. He said the state “produced no evidence suggesting the public’s confidence in the electoral process would be undermined by excusing those voters who cannot reasonably obtain an ID.” The key point after the ruling is that there is a “fail-safe” process allowing voters to swear they live in a current precinct (such as north of Cannonball) or a poll worker could vouch for that voter’s eligibility.

 

Three other state voter ID laws were limited by federal courts. This remains a contentious issue as state legislatures try and make it harder for people to cast ballots.

One cool voting improvement is the number of states that are setting up automatic registration. According to The Brennan Center for Justice: “Automatic voter registration is picking up speed and bipartisan support. The 2016 session saw more automatic voter registration bills introduced than any other kind of voting legislation. Under automatic registration, the government automatically and securely registers every eligible citizen who interacts with designated government offices unless the person declines to register.”

It’s also possible in many states to vote early. There are now 37 states that open up polls early in designated locations (including some in Indian Country).  Other states allow absentee voting for voters by request. And, in three states, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, the entire election is conducted by mail.

I particularly like early voting. It takes away the “x” factor. You know, things like, “something came up.” “I forgot.” “I had a crisis at work.” What ever. Vote early and it’s done. — Mark Trahant

 

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

Reposting or reprinting this column? Please credit: Mark Trahant / TrahantReports.com

 

 

 

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