Jodi Rave: Montana Natives flex power at polls
"Gerald Stiffarm worked stubbornly this year to encourage his Fort Belknap Reservation neighbors to vote in the general election, encouraging volunteers to return and knock on doors even if the occupants already said they didn't want to vote.

Ultimately, 93 volunteers with the Snake Butte Voter Coalition “pulled a miracle,” Stiffarm said, particularly after one such voter, an 82-year-old Korean War veteran, voted for the first time.

“We all about fell out of our shoes and some of the women cried when one of our volunteers said, ‘Guess who I got registered to vote?' ” he said.

This year, Stiffarm stood tall among organizers who helped boost voter turnout on six of the seven reservations across Montana, compared to the 2004 general election. Official general election results for Native precincts show voter turnout gains on the Crow, Blackfeet, Flathead, Northern Cheyenne, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations, respectively.

Voter turnout gains ranged 3 percent to 31 percent, with the Crow and Blackfeet reservations at a virtual tie for delivering the most people to the polls compared to four years ago, according to recently released data from the Montana Democratic Party Native vote committee.

On the Rocky Boy's Reservation, voter turnout was down 1 percent for the same time period - the only drop in participation seen on a Montana reservation."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Natives flex their electoral muscles (The Missoulian 12/14)

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