U.S. Senators Urge Justice Department To Protect Native Voting Rights

By Laurel Morales
Published: Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 2:12pm
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Arizona State University
Patty Ferguson-Bohnee is a law professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor Law School, director of the Indian Legal Clinic and lead on the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project.

Fourteen U.S. senators — all Democrats — have urged Attorney General William Barr to protect Native American voting rights in the upcoming election. 

Voting in Indian Country has long been problematic because some tribal members require translators and many reservations lack street addresses. 

Now state officials are closing polling locations and pushing for mail-in balloting to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That’s made the election process for Native Americans even more complicated. 

“There's a huge concern that pushing vote by mail in the United States doesn’t take into account realities of tribal voters who don't have access to mail,” said Patty Ferguson-Bohnee who directs Arizona State University’s Indian Legal Clinic.

The senators urge the Justice Department to work with tribal leaders to find solutions that don’t disenfranchise voters in Indian Country.