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Native Americans feel overlooked in voting rights push

Native Americans feel overlooked in voting rights push

Native American voters face heightened discrimination at the ballot box like Black Americans and Latino voters, but they're often left out of the conversation about election reform despite their ability to swing crucial races.

Why it matters: Voting rights is quickly becoming a litmus test for Democratic candidates to succeed nationwide, and a top priority for the Biden administration. Some Democrats are looking to carve out specific legislation helping to preserve Indigenous voters' access.

Driving the news: Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) has been working on a bill that would ensure Native Americans, Alaska Natives and voters living on tribal lands can easily register and cast their vote. Details: If enacted, NAVRA would allow Tribes to specify the number and locations of requested voter registration sites, drop boxes and polling locations on Tribal lands, and authorize Tribal ID cards for voting purposes. What they're saying: "We know the disenfranchisement of Black and Brown voters at the ballot box is more widely known — it's being talked about, it's being debated across America," Lujan told Axios in an interview. By the numbers: Over 1 million Native American and Alaska Native voters are not registered to vote. Don't forget: Native Americans have been credited with helping Democrats win close races in recent years. The backdrop: A number of states with GOP-controlled legislatures have recently passed bills that critics argue impose new restrictions on Indigenous voters. Some GOP proposals seek to impose new address requirements despite many Native Americans lacking addresses.

Only about 18% of Native American voters in Arizona, outside of the state's two largest counties, have traditional addresses, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, director of the Indian Legal Clinic at Arizona State, told Axios.

Posted on January 31, 2022 in News.
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