Tester, Walsh seek equal voting access for Native Americans
Senators back Native Voting Rights Act
(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are calling for equal voting access for all Native Americans.
The Senators today co-sponsored the Native Voting Rights Act, legislation that will better protect voting rights across Indian Country.
Many Native Americans live in isolated, rural communities, making it difficult for families to travel long distances to polling locations.
Tester and Walsh’s bill will prevent the closure of polling locations if closure reduces Native Americans’ ability to vote, require states with voter ID laws to accept tribal ID cards at polling locations and clarify that authorities have a duty to translate ballots into Native languages.
“The right to vote is a sacred right that shouldn’t be infringed upon because of where we live,” said Tester, Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “All law-abiding Americans earned the right to vote, and this bill makes sure Native Americans can fully participate in our democracy and have a say in electing our leaders.”
“Exercising one’s right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in this country, and it is high time that we make sure our tribal nations have equal access to exercising this right,” Walsh said. “This bill is an important response to the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision to strike down some of the most important protections of the Voting Rights Act. It will safeguard the voting rights of Native Americans by stopping discriminatory voting restrictions before they can be put in place.”
Tester and Walsh’s Native Voting Rights Act also increases transparency by giving the public access to election reports and giving tribal leaders authority to request additional election oversight.
The Native Voting Rights Act is also supported by Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska).