Voting Rights Webinar – October 5th, 2021

Addressing Barriers to Native American Voting Rights: A Tribal-Federal Roundtable Discussion

October 5th, 2021 | 3:00pm – 4:00pm EDT | Register now!

Please join us for a virtual roundtable discussion addressing the barriers to Native American voting rights.

Speakers include:

Sen. Ben Ray Luján, New Mexico

Sen. Jon Tester, Montana

Rep. Sharice Davids, Kansas

Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma, Hopi Tribe

Chairwoman Shelly Fyant, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

General Counsel Natasha Singh, Tanana Chiefs Conference

Please view the attached flyer for more details. Register now!

Join us for the virtual ILPC/TICA Conference

Anishinaabewaki, East Lansing, MI—When COVID-19 created an atmosphere of uncertainty for conference and training programs in 2020, the Tribal In-House Counsel Association and the Indigenous Law and Policy Center responded. The pressures of many new conditions placed on tribal in-house counsel attorneys prompted us to host the webinar series known as QuaranTICA. QuaranTICA covered issues such as tribal court closures and child welfare concerns while also bringing insight, updates, and as always, good humor to issues affecting tribal attorneys. Now, we are back for more!

The 2020 Indigenous Law Conference will be hosted as a webinar for the first time ever. The date has also changed to accommodate this new format.

The important message here is: it is TICA time!

With some familiar faces and other speakers who are new to our virtual stage, join us November 10, 12, and 13, 2020 to hear follow-up discussions about child welfare and social services, COVID-19 related litigation, quarantine issues and their enforcement, and remote oral arguments. Stay tuned for new panels on voting rights and the McGirt decision. Plus, it isn’t TICA without a reception! We are delighted to host live music from across Turtle Island on the evening of the opening day of the conference—November 10th.

You can find all conference details including registration, the agenda at a glance, and sponsorship tiers at www.indigenouslawconference.com. Just like every year, the Indigenous Law Conference is the time to renew your TICA membership, which is included in the registration fee. The conference is free for law students who register with their current law school email.

Check the website to register. Prior to the event, you will receive a password to the Indigenous Law Conference Participant Portal where the Zoom links will be available.

The conference consists of 6 panels, each 1.5 hours long, and is approved for 9 CLE credits through the Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education.

This year’s conference art is “I Will Show You The Stars” by Emily Courtney.
Visit www.indigenouslawconference.com to learn about the artist.

Tribes and Voting Rights Group Notify South Dakota of Serious Voter Registration Violations

On May 20, 2020, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Four Directions, a non-profit group that works to encourage civic participation in Indian Country, notified South Dakota officials of serious and ongoing violations of federal requirements for providing voter registration opportunities through public assistance agencies and departments of motor vehicles. The notice letter, directed to the Secretary of State as the state’s chief elections official, asks state officials to respond within 20 days to avoid the need for federal court litigation. In this matter, the Tribes are represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and Four Directions is represented by Demos.

Under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), state public assistance agencies and motor vehicle offices are required to provide voter registration services when people are applying for services, renewing their eligibility, and providing change-of-address information. The notice letter documents a steep drop in voter registration applications from public assistance agencies in recent years, and other clear evidence of non-compliance with the NVRA.

“When you go to a state office, such as to get your driver’s license or to apply for public assistance, you are supposed to be able to register to vote at the same time. The state is supposed to facilitate voter registration, but that is not what is happening in South Dakota. Reservation residents in particular are not being given this opportunity, and it is driving down voter participation,” said NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth.

Brenda Wright, Senior Advisor for Legal Strategies at Demos, representing Four Directions, stated: “Access to voter registration through government agencies is more important now than ever, given the difficulties of conducting traditional door-to-door registration drives. Demos has worked in many states to improve agency-based voter registration, and we hope that South Dakota officials will also work with us to ensure that South Dakotans can participate fully in the upcoming elections.”

O.J. Semans, Jr., speaking on behalf of Four Directions, stated, “My wife Barb and I are deeply concerned that Native Americans are losing the opportunity to register through South Dakota’s public assistance agencies and when getting a driver’s license. We’ve worked with the former Secretary of State, the Help America Vote Act task force and the election board in the past on developing formulas to create satellite offices on Indian Reservations. It is our hope that the state of South Dakota will once again work with us to ensure full participation in the 2020 Elections and beyond.”

The violations described in the letter include:

  • Failure to provide voter registration applications to persons during all public benefits transactions required by the NVRA
  • Failure to update applicants’ voter registration address when they report a change of address to public benefits agencies
  • Failure to provide voter registration services to persons who lack either a social security number or driver’s license

Under the NVRA, the Native American groups named in the notice letter may initiate litigation in federal court as soon as 20 days after the notice letter, if state officials do not remedy the violations during that time frame. The notice letter urges the state officials to indicate whether they are willing to engage in compliance discussions before the 20-day period expires.

Materials in Navajo Nation, et al. v. Reagan – Voting Rights Litigation

Here are the materials in Navajo Nation, et al. v. Reagan, et al. No. CV-18-08329-PCT-DWL (Ariz. D. Ct. 2019).

The Amended Complaint sought:

[D]eclaratory and injunctive relief, compelling the Defendants to (a) allow early voters who do not sign their ballot affidavit to have the same opportunity to cure the ballot deficiency that is provided to voters with a mismatched signature, (b) allow early voters who do not sign their ballot affidavit to have the same chance to cure their ballot as voters who vote by conditional provisional ballots, (c) provide translators certified as proficient in the Navajo language for all future early voting and election-day polling sites, (d) provide translation of instructions for casting an early ballot in Navajo over the radio for the 30 days leading up to an election, (e) establish additional in-person voter registration sites, and (f) establish additional early voting sites on the Reservation for all future elections that are open for consistent hours (at a minimum, each Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. with no interruption during the lunch hour) during the 30 days leading up to the election. This relief is sought on the grounds that failure to provide the requested relief is a denial of the equal right to vote.

The lawsuit was settled, and the Settlements can be seen here:

Political Lies and the Future of Voting Rights

Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear. He has prepared his story for public consumption with a careful eye to making it credible, whereas reality has the disconcerting habit of confronting us with the unexpected, for which we were not prepared.

Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic

Be prepared for a massive purge of American voters, mostly Democratic Party-leaning, mostly minorities, from the rolls of register voters. The plan seems to be to claim that the President actually won the popular vote (a falsehood, by millions of votes), then to claim that millions of people voted for the Democratic Party candidate illegally (also a falsehood), then to audit voters in targeted locations (Mike Pence promised to do it), declare the audit actually did uncover millions of illegal voters (whether or not it’s true, and it’s not), and then purge them. It’ll have to be done in less than two years before the midterm election where, all things being equal, the Republican Party is headed for disaster.

Two entities in power can stop this — the Republican Party and the Roberts Court — but those are entities that are not going to do anything to assist the Democratic Party or minority voting rights. Rs believe almost religiously that illegal immigrants vote in large numbers, for example, all but foreclosing a Party response on that front. And the Roberts Court’s record on minority voting rights is just bad, possibly because the Chief Justice is not a fan of the voting rights act.

One can watch, or one can act.

Montana School District to Redraw District Lines after Losing Voting Rights Act Case to Native Voters

Here are the materials in Jackson v. Wolf Point School District (D. Mont.) (from the ALCU site):

Final Order
Judge Strong’s Recommendations
Consent Decree
Complaint

Press Release

From the ACLU site:

In January 2014, Wolf Point School District officials conceded voting districts challenged in August 2013 violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. A settlement with the district calls for electing one board member from each of five voting districts to serve on the high school and elementary school boards and one member elected at-large district-wide to serve only on the high school board. Each of the new single-member districts will have populations that vary no more than 1.54 percent. This is a significant change from the existing system in which members of the majority white voting district have been electing one board member for every 143 residents and those in the majority Native American district have been electing one board member for every 841 residents. The settlement will be implemented over two years. The ACLU of Montana and the ACLU National Voting Rights Project sued the Wolf Point High School District in U.S. District Court in 2013 on behalf of seven Native American voters whose right to equal representation was being violated by these malapportioned school district voting districts that give some voters greater representation on the school board. The old districts violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act because they deprived Native Americans of the equal right to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice.

News coverage here.

The Hill: Indian Voting Rights Case Could Decide Control of Senate in 2015

Here.

An excerpt:

Carole Goldberg, a professor and vice chancellor at UCLA’s School of Law who has dealt extensively with Native American legal rights, said discrimination is widespread in many states with Native populations.

“There are persistent patterns where states have criminal jurisdiction on reservations and the counties that exercise this jurisdiction locate their facilities and services in a place convenient for the non-Native population and not the Native populations,” said Goldberg, who has donated to multiple Democratic candidates.

Merits Briefs (so far) in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.

From the ABA: