There has been so much attention to the so-called “blue wave,” and now, perhaps the re-energized “Red Wave.” But the real news in this election cycle will be the emerging “Brown Wave,” of Tribal voters working hard to change outcomes all across the country.
Tribes have been pressing hard for more than a decade educating their citizens on such issues as registering, local election rules, what to do if they encounter resistance when voting, and the biggest push of all–a nation-wide “Get Out The Vote” effort. For years Inter Tribal organizations have invested much more time and resources assisting Tribes with building grass root voter participation efforts within their communities.
In Michigan, there are close to 100,000 eligible Indigenous voters, meaning that in a state where the 2016 presidential race was a margin of 0.3%, Indigenous voters are equal to 4 times more than the margin of victory. There are other states where the eligible Native voter base makes up even a great percentage–states like Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Alaska, North Dakota as well as others.
Every vote counts and every election has consequences for Tribes and their citizens. The recent contested Supreme Court confirmation has the significant potential for disastrous outcomes for Indian country. With the Court swerving hard to the right, landmark cases such as ICWA, taxation, reservation diminishment and even termination may land before the Court in this new term which started October 1st.
This year there is a record number of Indigenous candidates seeking offices at all levels of government. There were approximately 100 tribal candidates headed into the primaries which produced some high-profile candidates for national office-most notably Sharice Davids, who is running for a House seat in Kansas as well as others-Deb Haarland in New Mexico and Paulette Jordan in Idaho. There are also candidates for Lt. Governor races in Minnesota and Alaska, just to highlight a few.
In both the Senate and House mid-terms there are several key competitive or toss-up races in states with large Indigenous voter bases like: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Maine, California, Texas, Utah, Kansas, Washington and New York to name several states where the Native vote can make the margin of victory.
For perhaps the first time, more national tracking and analytical organizations are closely following the impact of the Native vote. They recognize the potential for the “Brown Wave,” to make a significant impact on November 6th.