Attorneys, advocates reflect on new Native American Voting Rights bill

The U.S. Capitol dome in the spring. (Photo courtesy Architect of the Capitol) Some people with stakes in Indigenous voter rights are looking to the Native American Voting Rights Act to help address voting and election problems for Oklahoma tribes.

“This legislation greatly improves the tools and resources available to help Native Americans exercise their right to vote, which is especially important for those living in rural areas,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said when he introduced the bill to the House alongside U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kan., on Aug. 13.

Native Organizers Alliance is a volunteer group known for helping to organize and build Indigenous community leaders and groups. One primary objective has been getting Native voters registered for tribal, state and national elections.

The alliance serves several tribes and states across the nation, including Oklahoma. Jennifer Bailey, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe, volunteers there when needed.

Bailey hopes the Native American Voting Rights Act will address some of the long-standing concerns she’s had for voting participation in her own tribe.

“A lot of them don’t trust the voting process,” Bailey said. “They feel like it’s built against them. In reality, it is the voter suppression that’s a tactic to refrain Native Americans from actually voting and exercising their rights to vote. Voting rights is a trust responsibility by the federal government to the Native Americans. It’s a constitutional right for everybody.”

Victoria Holland, a member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, said only a small portion of eligible voters […]

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