- By JENIFFER SOLIS, Nevada Current
This article was originally and is published with permission.The 2024 Presidential Preference Primary Election will be the first election where Native voters residing on reservations in Nevada can vote using Nevada’s Effective Absentee System for Elections () system, which allows Nevada military members, residents living overseas and voters with disabilities to mark their ballots electronically.
System follows earlier reformsAn analysis of registered voters and zip codes revealed that during the 2020 presidential election, Mineral County, home to the Walker River Paiute Tribe, recorded its highest voter turnout at more than 80%, exceeding the total statewide . “One of the other reasons we know that Indian Country is much more engaged in the civic process is because of the number of Native Americans who are running for office,” Montooth said. “We’re not just going to the polls and voting. You know, we’re getting our names on ballots.” During the 2022 Nevada State Assembly elections, Shea Backus, Cherokee, regained the seat she lost to Jacob Deaville as the state assembly member for district 37 in Las Vegas. That same year, Mercedes Krause, Oglala Lakota, was the Democratic nominee for Nevada’s 2nd congressional district. She ultimately lost to incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Amodei. “Dare I say it’s a movement,” Montooth said. This year’s election reforms also build on a slew of changes in recent years. In 2021, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill allowing tribes to request a polling site or ballot drop box on their reservation that would each election cycle. That same year, the U.S. Census Bureau required Nye County to administer federal elections in the due to the Voting Rights Act, which requires counties whose voting-age population is more than 5% Native American to provide language assistance. The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe in Nye County now “has an elder there helping to translate the ballot for their members,” said Tiger. “Where would you even imagine that? I felt like that should be at every reservation, so the elders feel more included. Now those who would like to hear it in their own language or need to hear it in their own language have that translation available,” Tiger continued. This year marks 100 years since the federal Indian Citizenship Act recognized U.S. citizenship for all indigenous people in the U.S., Tiger noted. And despite recent gains and the higher turnout for Native voters in recent elections, there’s more work to do to make elections truly equitable for Native Americans, said Tiger. “We’re setting up the infrastructure to build a statewide ecosystem for our tribal communities on reservation land and in urban areas, so we can coordinate our resources and support one another statewide,” Tiger said.
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