Comment: US Senator Ben Ray Luján (DN.M.), a member of the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee, led his colleagues in the implementation of the Frank Harrison, Elizabeth Peratrovich and Miguel Trujillo Native American Voting Rights Act of 2021 (NAVRA) – pioneering suffrage laws that protect sacred suffrage and ensure equal access to the electoral process for Native Americans, Native Americans, and tribal voters.
Senator Luján previously spearheaded the reintroduction of NAVRA in the House of Representatives during the 116th Congress with former US Senator Tom Udall. Company legislation was introduced by US representatives Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) And Tom Cole (R-OK).
The United States has a fiduciary responsibility to pass voting laws to protect the constitutionally guaranteed franchise of Native Americans. However, Native American voters have historically faced unique challenges in exercising their right to vote. Geographic isolation, nontraditional mailing addresses, lack of postal delivery to homes, lack of affordable and reliable broadband services, limited transportation, less access to survey and registration sites than those who are not in tribal areas, need for native language translation, and poverty are just some of the particular problems faced by local voters that require legislative resolution.
NAVRA would take important steps, such as allowing tribes to indicate the number and locations of requested voter registries, mailboxes, and polling stations in tribal areas, and to authorize tribal ID cards for voting purposes. The bill would also help establish Native American Voting Task Forces at the federal level to resolve the unique voting problems faced by tribal voters by providing a 10% Native American Voting Task Force grant program Million US dollars is approved. It would also require prior notification and approval from the tribe before states and counties could remove, consolidate, or otherwise restrict access to polling stations on tribal land.
“Our democracy is strongest when every American can participate and make their voice heard. But in too many communities across America, efforts to suppress voters are making it difficult for Americans to vote, especially Native Americans, who continue to face geographic, linguistic, and legal barriers to voting. Congress has a moral imperative to protect sacred suffrage and dismantle the ballot box barriers for voters living on tribal land. said Senator Lujan. “The Frank Harrison, Elizabeth Peratrovich, and Miguel Trujillo Native American Voting Rights Act will allow more voters to participate in the electoral process, and I look forward to working with Reps Davids and Cole to build support for this legislation.”
“Voting is the basis of our democracy, but local voters are repeatedly confronted with obstacles at the ballot boxes, from considerable distances and unequal opening times in the polling stations to a lack of electoral education. This bill fulfills our federal fiduciary responsibility to protect and promote the exercise of their constitutionally guaranteed voting rights by Native Americans. said Rep David’s. “I am proud to continue what Senator Luján and my co-chair, Tom Cole, brought forward in the Native American Congress during his tenure in the House of Representatives. I stand with my colleagues from the House and Senate as we introduce this important and comprehensive piece of legislation that will ensure that Native Americans and Alaskan Native Americans have equal access to our democracy. “
“Together with my colleague Representative Davids and Senator Lujan, I am proud to introduce the Native American Voting Rights Act.” said Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. “This bill greatly improves the tools and resources available to assist Native American people in exercising their voting rights, which is especially important for those who live in rural areas.”
In addition to Luján, the Senators Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Booker (DN.J.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Feinstein (D-Calif), Heinrich (DN .M), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Padilla (D-Calif.), Rosen (D-Nev.), Sanders (I-Vt.) , Schatz (D-Hawaii), Smith (D-Minn.), Tester (D-Mont.), Van Hollen (D-MD) and Warren (D-Mass.). More than 30 voting rights and tribal organizations supported the legislation.
“For the past decade, NARF has documented and tackled the targeted obstacles local voters face when casting their votes. We thank Senator Lujan and Congressman Davids for their guidance in introducing legislation to create a base for electoral access in the Indian country so that indigenous communities have a fair chance to vote with the same ease as other US citizens. NARF strongly supports this legislation, which will create fairer access for Native Americans. ” said John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund.
“Many indigenous people living on reservations have to work incredibly hard, travel unreasonable distances, and expend a lot of time, resources, and effort to choose.” said the Native American Voting Rights Coalition. “This legislation recognizes the unique challenges faced by indigenous communities and begins to address some of the systemic problems. The Native American Voting Rights Coalition is proud to support this important law. “
“The Native American Voting Rights Act is an important piece of legislation in the ongoing work to protect and expand Native American voting rights across the country.” said New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. “The law highlights the challenges faced by voters in tribal areas and empowers sovereign tribal governments to find appropriate solutions for their communities. I am happy to advocate this law and appreciate the work Senator Ben Ray Luján has done to move it forward and seek input from my office. I am particularly encouraged that many of the proposals in the law pursue current New Mexico law, which has some of the most protective voting laws in the country. “
“The All Pueblo Board of Governors fully supports the Native American Voting Rights Act (NAVRA) and respectfully calls on Congress to fully utilize its plenary and exclusive powers to remove barriers that affect access for Indians in America to express our voting rights perceive. By removing the myriad of obstacles that undermine our path to building political power, the passage of NAVRA is necessary to ensure that our indigenous people are fully accepted as “qualified members of the modern corporation.” In fact, this Native American Suffrage Act will raise the voice of Native people on Election Day because we know our votes are tied into the political fabric of national, state, and local elections. ” said the Board of Governors of All Pueblo.
“NM Native Vote is proud to support this important law. This law is a critical step in bridging the civic engagement void for indigenous people across the country. Native Americans face significant and systemic barriers to voting, but this is a useful start-up step to ensure that Native Americans are properly engaged and empowered in their voices so that they can emerge to make a difference in their communities. ” said New Mexico Native Vote. “We would like to thank Senator Luján for supporting this bill, and we urge our Heads of State and Government to support this legislation in order to eliminate the systemic disadvantages that indigenous people face in voting and to make everyone more equitable To enable access to our democracy. “
Legislation is funded by the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Native American Voting Rights Coalition, Alaska Federation of Natives, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, National Indian Education Association, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Coalition of Large Tribes, Advance Native Political Leadership, California Native Vote Project, North Dakota Native Vote, Four Directions, Las Vegas Indian Center, NDN Collective, Sacred Pipe Resource Center , Tribal Minds Inc., United Natives, All Pueblo Council of Governors, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, Navajo Nation, American Civil Liberties Union, Asian American Advancing Justice, Brennan Center for Justice, Fair Elections Center, NAACP (LDF), Campaign Legal Center, Demos, National Disability Rights Network, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the Leadership-Ko conference on civil and human rights.
You can find the full legal text HERE. A summary of the legislation can be found HERE.
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