Editorial: Make voting easier for Montana's original Americans

Mark Wandering Medicine, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana. was the lead plaintiff in the Wandering Medicine voting rights lawsuit. Photo from National Commission on Voting Rights

Montana newspaper urges counties to work with tribes to set up satellite voting offices on their reservations:
Providing a satellite office to encourage more Native American voting is not only a good idea, but it's been the subject of a lawsuit that was decided in favor of Native American activists who sued three counties in Montana. U.S. District Judge Malloy gave Montana's secretary of state authority to set up the offices.

Glacier County in northern Montana avoided such unpleasantness by simply providing a satellite voting location in Browning, rather than requiring voters from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to drive to Cut Bank to register to vote. County officials there saw a need and agreed with Blackfeet officials that something should be done.

We'd like to see that spirit of cooperation continue in other places in Montana, where there has been some reluctance expressed to providing satellite election offices for mostly Indian voters. We think this is a good opportunity for those counties named earlier in the lawsuit — Rosebud, Blaine and Big Horn — to demonstrate an enlightened approach and, if Indian tribes request a satellite office, to grant the request. Of the three counties, only Big Horn County provided a satellite election location in 2014 on the Crow Reservation. Rosebud and Blaine counties cited late requests from tribes for not setting up the offices.

To be clear, most reservations offer polling places on Election Day, but few provide same-day registration and in-person absentee voting that are offered at county election offices.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Make voting easier for Native Americans on reservations (The Great Falls Tribune 10/25)

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