U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), along with 12 other Democratic senators introduced a bill aimed at ensuring that Native Americans and Alaska Natives have equal access to voting in elections. The bill, “TO PROTECT THE VOTING RIGHTS OF NATIVE AMERICANS AND ALASKA NATIVE VOTERS,” was introduced October 3rd. It will be commonly referred to as, “NATIVE AMERICAN VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 2018.” The legislation is designed to ensure that proper federal oversight and resources are directed towards preserving and protecting equal access for Native Americans to the electoral process.
The bill’s central provisions support the principles of self-determination by:
Establishing a first-of-its kind Native American Voting Rights Task Force. This new program will provide
funds to tribal and state consortiums for purposes of boosting Native voter registration, education and
election participation in tribal communities.
Providing equal access to the voter registration and polling sites. The Act includes provisions to
increase Native American and Alaska Native access at each stage of the voting process, from voter
registration to access to the physical places and mechanisms for voting.
Addressing the devastating effects of Shelby County v. Holder by restoring tribal “preclearance.” This
Act restores preclearance review for a specific subset of state actions that have been used to restrict
access to the polls on Native lands.
Affording equal treatment for tribal IDs. This Act directs voting precincts to treat tribal ID cards like state
and local ID cards for purposes of voting.
Requiring adequate language assistance. Directs the State to consult with the Tribe on the appropriate
method for furnishing instructions, assistance, or other information related to registration and voting.
Furnishing federal election observers. Provides tribal leaders a direct pathway to request Federal
Requiring DOJ to conduct annual voting consultation with Indian Tribes. Given the persistent,
unrelenting threats to the right to vote for Native American and Alaska Native citizens, this section
directs DOJ to consult annually with tribal organizations.
Native Americans often have to overcome obstacles and barriers to voting, including issues using Tribal ID cards for registration and voting, physical barriers like remote polling and registrations sites, and language barriers which many Tribes see as ways of suppressing the growing strength of the Native vote.
The full text is available here: