Lujan Champions Native American Voting Rights
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., is the lead sponsor of the Native American Voting Rights Act of 2021, landmark legislation intended to ensure equal access to the electoral process for Native Americans, Alaska Natives and voters living on tribal lands.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Reps. Sharice Davids, D-Kan., and Tom Cole, R-Okla.
Luján previously led the House re-introduction of NAVRA during the 116th Congress alongside former Sen. Tom Udall.
“Our Democracy is at its strongest when every American can participate and make their voice heard,” Luján said in a written statement. “But in too many communities across America, voter suppression efforts are making it harder for Americans to vote, especially for Native Americans who continue to experience geographic, linguistic, and legal barriers to voting. Congress has a moral imperative to protect the sacred right to vote and reduce barriers to the ballot box for voters living on tribal lands.”
“The Frank Harrison, Elizabeth Peratrovich, and Miguel Trujillo Native American Voting Rights Act will empower more voters to participate in the electoral process, and I look forward to working with Reps. Davids and Cole to build support for this legislation,” he said.
The United States has a responsibility to enact voting rights legislation to protect the constitutionally-guaranteed right of Native Americans to vote, the bill sponsors say.
However, Native American voters have historically faced unique challenges when exercising their right to vote. Geographic isolation, non-traditional mailing addresses, lack of residential mail delivery, lack of affordable and reliable broadband service, limited transportation, less access to polling and registration sites than those not located on tribal lands, native language translation needs, and poverty are just some of the distinct issues confronting native voters that demand a legislative solution.
NAVRA will work, the sponsors say, “to enact key measures, such as allowing tribes to specify the number and locations of requested voter registration sites, drop boxes and polling locations on tribal lands, and authorizing tribal ID cards for voting purposes.”
The bill would also help establish state-level Native American voting task forces to address the unique voting issues faced by voters on tribal lands by authorizing a $10 million Native American Voting Rights Task Force grant program. It would also require prior tribal notice and consent before states and precincts could remove, consolidate, or otherwise reduce access to voting locations on tribal lands.
“We cannot have an inclusive democracy if we do not provide Native Americans equal access to the ballot,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., a co-sponsor of the legislation. “We must address the systemic and other barriers that Native Americans face when voting, and customize our elections administration to ensure that Tribal communities are not denied equal participation in our democratic process.
“In addressing these unique challenges, we must also listen to and collaborate with tribes. As California’s secretary of state, I supported the creation of a task force to advise elections officials on improving Native American voter participation–this legislation would bring that concept to states across the nation,” he said.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Native American Voting Rights Coalition, Alaska Federation of Natives, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, National Indian Education Association, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Coalition of Large Tribes, Advance Native Political Leadership, California Native Vote Project, North Dakota Native Vote, Four Directions, Las Vegas Indian Center, NDN Collective, Sacred Pipe Resource Center, Tribal Minds Inc., United Natives, All Pueblo Council of Governors, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, Navajo Nation, American Civil Liberties Union, Asian American Advancing Justice, Brennan Center for Justice, Fair Elections Center, NAACP (LDF), Campaign Legal Center, Demos, National Disability Rights Network, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The full text of the bill is available here.
In The News
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Every registered California voter will get a ballot mailed to them in future elections under a... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Every registered California voter will get a ballot mailed to them in future elections under a bill signed Monday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The law makes permanent a change adopted during the pandemic for the 2020 election and the recent recall... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats are trying to firm up support this week for a new bill to reform local and... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats are trying to firm up support this week for a new bill to reform local and federal elections in a way that puts them on a collision course with a recent wave of laws in Republican-dominated states. They have largely failed with... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats introduced a pared down version of the House voting rights bill Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats introduced a pared down version of the House voting rights bill Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer indicated he likely will bring it to a vote in the chamber as early next week. After introducing the bill, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.,... Read More
The temptation is to liken them to the undeterable posse that pursed Robert Redford and Paul Newman to the end... Read More
The temptation is to liken them to the undeterable posse that pursed Robert Redford and Paul Newman to the end of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” “Who are those guys?” Butch asks so often toward the closing credits of the 1969 film that it becomes... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans in America's largest conservative state for years racked up victories under the slogan "Keep Texas... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans in America's largest conservative state for years racked up victories under the slogan "Keep Texas Red," a pledge to quash a coming blue wave that Democrats argued was inevitable given shifting demographics. Now, those population transformations have arrived, with the 2020... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas -- Gov. Gregg Abbott had barely finished signing his name to a sweeping overhaul of his state’s election... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas -- Gov. Gregg Abbott had barely finished signing his name to a sweeping overhaul of his state’s election rules Tuesday, when a Democratic election lawyer announced he’d filed a lawsuit to prevent the new procedures from taking effect. Marc Elias is suing the state... Read More