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Voting Rights Act up for reauthorization

With some provisions in the Voting Rights Act set to expire in 2007, Native Americans and their advocates are seeking to reauthorize and strengthen protections for Indian Country.

Section 5 requires local officials to obtain federal clearance for changes in voting practices or procedures. The provision has been used to ensure the voting rights of Native Americans in South Dakota, Alaska, Arizona and other states are protected.

In South Dakota, clearance has been a major issue. The state recently agreed to settle a lawsuit for thousands of changes it had proposed that would have affected counties where a significant percentage of the population is Native.

Another section that requires ballots in Native languages has been used in Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico. Election monitoring also has been used for Native voters in Arizona.

Get the Story:
Indians still face obstacles in voting (AP 3/27)

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