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Native American Voting Rights

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In our national discussions on race, Native Americans are usually a footnote. We talk about them in the past but forget they are still around today and that they still face very real discrimination, both structural and societal. This includes access to voting. A group of Native Americans in Montana has filed a lawsuit to allow satellite voting on the reservations. Their claim last fall but is presently on appeal to the 9th Circuit. Some of them have to travel up to 100 miles to vote, a real hardship that means many simply can’t vote at all. There’s no good reason to not allow satellite voting except that Republicans don’t want Native Americans to vote.

From a strictly political perspective, this really matters in a western state that actually can and routinely does elect Democrats on the state level, even if a Democratic presidential candidate can’t come close there. Jon Tester has two terms in the Senate now in no small part because of Native American voting. Opposing satellite voting on the reservations is part of a larger Republican strategy to disfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible, especially people of color.

Of course, given the SCOTUS decision overturning the most important part of the Voting Rights Act, eventual victory in this case is probably doomed.

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