Published on Mar 27, 2013
Brief highlights difficulties on-reservation Native voters face in achieving voting rights equality in Montana
Washington, DC – The voting rights of tribal members in the state of Montana were the focus of an amicus brief filed today by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), along with the Indian Legal Clinic at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The amicus brief, filed in the United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was filed in support of the plaintiffs-appellants in Wandering Medicine v. MuCulloch.
In the brief NCAI outlines the purpose submitting the brief:
“NCAI files this brief as amicus curiae because voting is a fundamental right that should be enjoyed by all Americans under federal law, including American Indians and Alaska Natives residing on or near reservations. However, American Indians and Alaska Natives have been historically discriminated against during elections, and they disproportionately face distance barriers and have far less access to mechanisms meant to compensate for the challenges presented by living in remote locations (e.g., lack of computer/printer/internet access or difficulty accessing vehicles/public transportation).
Amicus agrees that Appellees violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide Native Americans equal access to the ballot box in Big Horn, Blaine, and Rosebud counties. Refusing to establish early voter and registration sites in satellite locations on Indian reservations discriminates against American Indians in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), 42 U.S.C. §1973.”
NCAI summarizes the argument of the brief in the following way:
“Appellants’ request is not onerous—they seek to have one additional satellite voting site in each county in order to provide Indian voters with the same access that their non-Indian counterparts have to the political process.3 Appellants even offered to assist with resources in order to ensure that American Indian voters are not denied the same voting opportunities as non-Indians. The Montana Secretary of State noted that it is possible to open satellite offices on each reservation, but the counties have not agreed to provide services to their American Indian constituents on par with their non-Indian counterparts. The failure of Big Horn, Blaine, and Rosebud counties to provide late registration and early voting access to American Indians living on Indian reservations in Montana discriminates against Indian voters by denying them access equal access to all stages of the voting process in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Because American Indians in Montana meet the standards for asserting a Section 2 claim under the Voting Rights Act, the Court should reverse the denial of Appellants’ motion for injunctive relief and order the counties to establish satellite office locations in Fort Belknap, Lame Deer, and Crow Agency for all future local, state, and national elections. Providing satellite locations for in-person late registration and early voting in Fort Belknap, Lame Deer, and Crow Agency is a cost-effective solution that would address Appellants’ voting rights claim in a manner that places minimal burdens on Big Horn, Blaine, and Rosebud counties.”Subscribe to our News RSS