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2014 & 2016 Alaska Native and Native American Voters

2014 & 2016 Alaska Native and Native American Voters

By

Terrance H. Booth, Sr. - Neesh Wil Gum - Tsimshian Nation

This year in the State of Alaska an Alaska Native, by name of Byron Mallott, of Yakutat, Alaska is running to become the first Alaska Native to become governor of Alaska. He has been busy going across the State of Alaska and making lot of head way with Alaska Natives.

“The candidacy of Byron Mallott for governor of Alaska has to be at the top of any list. Mallott has the ideal resume. He’s a member of the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, and a clan leader of the Kwaashk’i Kwáan of the Raven people. He has worked in state government and as the chief executive of Sealaska corporation. Mallott was mayor of two towns including Juneau, the state capital.” [1]

Native Voting is now protected and US Senators Tester and John Walsh seek equal voting access for Native Americans. Their Press Release: “Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are calling for equal voting access for all Native Americans.

The Senators today co-sponsored the Native Voting Rights Act, legislation that will better protect voting rights across Indian Country.

Many Native Americans live in isolated, rural communities, making it difficult for families to travel long distances to polling locations.

Tester and Walsh's bill will prevent the closure of polling locations if closure reduces Native Americans' ability to vote, require states with voter ID laws to accept tribal ID cards at polling locations and clarify that authorities have a duty to translate ballots into Native languages.

"The right to vote is a sacred right that shouldn't be infringed upon because of where we live," said Tester, Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "All law-abiding Americans earned the right to vote, and this bill makes sure Native Americans can fully participate in our democracy and have a say in electing our leaders."

"Exercising one's right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in this country, and it is high time that we make sure our tribal nations have equal access to exercising this right," Walsh said. "This bill is an important response to the Supreme Court's unfortunate decision to strike down some of the most important protections of the Voting Rights Act. It will safeguard the voting rights of Native Americans by stopping discriminatory voting restrictions before they can be put in place."

Tester and Walsh's Native Voting Rights Act also increases transparency by giving the public access to election reports and giving tribal leaders authority to request additional election oversight. US Senator introduce Native Voting Rights Act to the US Senate.” [2]

Putting this Native Voting Rights Act into place held a hearing on Native Voting: (U.S. SENATE) - “Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, attended a meeting this week to hear concerns over voter access in Indian Country.
Tester heard from tribal leaders and national Native American advocacy groups who described challenges to voting in many Alaska Native and tribal communities.
Tester, along with Senator John Walsh (D-Mont.), is the sponsor of a bill to improve access to voting in Indian Country. Their bill prevents the closure of polling locations near reservations and requires polling locations to accept tribal ID cards.
"Our democracy is built on the fundamental principal that all citizens have a right to vote," Tester said. "I'm working to ensure that the tribes of Montana are never denied that right."” [3]

Get Out to Vote Efforts Nation-wide for Indian Country, USA: “Native American communities nationwide are working hard to tap about 3 million Native American voters, hoping to turn around low voter participation that has persisted in Indian Country for decades. The push is being headed by the National Congress of American Indians, the largest group representing Native Americans, which calls low turnout a “civic emergency” – fueled by everything from language barriers and vast distances between polling places to high unemployment and poverty.

“As we look at why our vote is so important, our political activism really is aimed at making sure that we can address critical concerns in our communities,” said NCAI executive director Jacqueline Johnson Pata.” [4]

Not only Alaska Native or Native America Tribes are sick and tired of this do nothing Republican Party now in Congress; but all minorities and America’s poor. The Republican Sequestration Budget the Alaska Native and Native Americans the hardest hit for it impacted several tribal programs with major budget cuts.

One Native American response to the Republican Sequestration Budget: "The ones who are supposed to help us the most, hurt us the most," laments Floyd Azure, the 56-year-old Fort Peck tribal chairman. Azure’s comment is warranted. The sequester represents some of the most draconian spending cuts in reservation history, impacting tribal members, both young (Head Start) and old (IHS).” [5]

Another Native American Voice on Sequestration: “More people sick; fewer people educated; fewer people getting general assistance; more domestic violence; more alcoholism,” said Richard L. Zephier, the executive director of the Oglala Sioux tribe. “That’s all correlated to the cuts from sequestration.” [6]

With this backdrop of what is happening for all Natives of Indian Country 2014 presents an opportunity to oust those who do not listen to the will of the people but listen to their campaign contributors and not doing anything but make the poor poorer. Its time we help make a change to once and for all put elected officials who will listen to the concerns and issues of all the poor of America and its Veterans.

Alaska Native and Native American now have protected voting rights and in Arizona the Independent Party has more voting numbers. Also, the race for governorship of Arizona has a long slate of potential candidates means splitting of voters .

About Native Vote
What is Native Vote?

Native Vote is a nonpartisan campaign initiated by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). It is designed to encourage American Indian and Alaska Native people to exercise their right to vote. With the heightened political participation of Native people, Indian Country has become an increasingly powerful voting bloc. In recent years, the Native vote has been publicly acknowledged as making a visible difference in national, state, and local elections.

The Native Vote campaign is working closely with regional organizations, tribal governments, and urban Indian centers to create a strong and permanent infrastructure for election training that highlights voter registration, election protection policies, and Native mobilization.
Download Native Vote Backgrounder

1. Voter Registration and Get-Out-The-Native-Vote (GOTNV). NCAI recognizes that a strong grassroots effort is needed; and encourages all tribes, regional, and inter-tribal organizations to have a Native Vote coordinator. There is a need to get the community mobilized early, starting with registration, as Native Americans are unregistered at higher rates than other communities. To mobilize and assist tribes with the upcoming elections, Native Vote is providing toolkits, updating the Native Vote webpage, distributing e-newsletters and promotional items, creating Public Service Announcements (PSAs), and hosting telephone conferences, webinars, and trainings.

2. Election Protection. It is critical for voters to understand their rights, especially for those who do not actively participate in the political process. In collaboration with Election Protection coordinators, Native Vote ensures that every qualified voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot on Election Day. NCAI works with Native lawyers locally and nationally to assist with the Election Protection component of this campaign. In addition, NCAI is planning to distribute materials to assist all Native Americans in knowing their voting rights. This applies especially in response to new voter identification laws.

3. Education. This strategy is comprised of a three pieces; 1) Assisting Native voters to be educated on the candidates and ballot measures, 2) Educating the candidates on the issues Indian Country cares about and encourage them to develop Native policy platforms, and 3) Encouraging more Native people to run for offices. Native Vote will be preparing materials to aid in this effort, working with regional organizations and other non-profits to increase voter awareness and education efforts.

4. Data Collection: Measuring the Impact of Native Vote. Data on voter registration and voter turnout for American Indian and Alaska Native people has historically been complex and incomplete. During the 2012 election NCAI attempted to measure data on Native voter registration and voting turnout, and uncovered a host of methodological issues. It is NCAI’s intention for the 2014 cycle to gather ideas on what we can accurately collect data on and what sources are available to Indian Country. We will share data collection and data tools with tribal leaders to encourage them to utilize these methods. Understanding the voting patterns of Native people is key to understanding the impact of Native Vote and better streamlining future efforts.[7]

Native Vote Targets Key States:
Alaska Florida Michigan Nevada North Dakota South Dakota
Arizona Iowa Minnesota New Mexico Oklahoma Washington
Colorado Massachusetts Montana North Carolina Oregon Wisconsin

2014 Indian Country make Native voting history and not only bring about change for Americans but for Natives.

1. http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php/columnists/mark-trahant/14055-the...
2. http://www.tester.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=3414
3. http://www.noodls.com/view/79C3D5CD776399E636310831EFC1D9D45CF93462?7811...
4. http://nativetimes.com/news/politics/8029-tribal-leaders-push-for-big-in...
5. http://mic.com/articles/31085/sequestration-is-hitting-native-americans-...
6. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/business/economy/us-budget-cuts-fall-h...
7. http://www.nativevote.org/page/about-native-vote