This West Is OUR West

Tester introduces bill to bolster voting access for Native Americans

March 21, 2019

From Senator Tester’s Office

BIG SANDY — U.S. Senator Jon Tester has introduced legislation to help Native American Tribes strengthen voter protections and increase access to the polls in Indian Country.

The Native American Voting Rights Act gives Tribes tools to create more accessible polling locations, increase voter registration, and prevent states from making it more difficult for Native Americans to vote.

“For too long, Native Americans have been silenced by unfair rules that prevent them from casting ballots.” Tester said. “We should be doing everything we can to increase voting access so all Americans can exercise their constitutional rights. This bill would give tribes the tools they need to get more folks to the polls and make their voices heard in our democracy.”

Native Americans continue to face tremendous obstacles that prevent them from getting to the polls on Election Day. Burdensome voter identification requirements, inadequate language assistance, and remoteness of polling and registration sites make it increasingly hard to vote in Indian Country.

Tester’s bill would require states to treat Tribal IDs in the same manner as state ID cards, establish polling locations on Indian lands if requested by the Tribes, and consult with Tribes on adequate language assistance.

Tester has long fought to empower Montana’s Tribes. Earlier this year, Tester pushed to create a federal study on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. He also helped negotiate a budget to give Tribes resources to expand law enforcement, education, health care, and housing efforts.