Tester to Sessions: Protect Voting Rights of Native Americans

Senator Demands Justice Department Count Every Voice in Indian Country

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is spearheading an effort to tear down barriers that strip Montanans of their right to vote.

Tester is demanding Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director Tracy Toulou of the Office of Tribal Justice establish satellite voting locations on tribal lands.

“Native American communities, especially in rural areas, face significant barriers to casting a ballot,” wrote Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Time is of the essence to ensure proactive measures are taken to protect the voting rights of Native Americans.”

Tester noted that many tribal communities lack a post office or internet access, and these barriers require many tribal members to register and vote in person, in some cases driving over 100 miles to cast their ballot.

Tester urged the Justice Department to protect the rights of Native American voters by increasing access to voting and ensuring compliance with the Voting Rights Act in tribal communities.

“These undue barriers to voting are unacceptable,” Tester continued.

Following a recent ruling that the state of Nevada violated the Voting Rights Act by decreasing opportunities for Native Americans to vote, Tester demanded responses to questions, including:

  • What steps has the Department of Justice taken regarding enforcement of the Voting Rights Act?
  • What measures are being taken by the Department of Justice to track, investigate, and take action against states that pass and implement laws that may violate the Voting Rights Act with respect to Native American voters?
  • Does the Department of Justice stand behind the principles of the Tribal Equal Access to Voting Act?

Tester’s full letter to Sessions and Toulou are available HERE.