The Ball Street Journal

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The Ball Street Journal

The Ball Street Journal

Native American Voting Rights


Having the right to vote should be a guaranteed privilege in the United States, but for Native Americans it has been upward battle to be acknowledge as registered voters, and to use their right to vote.

When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, Native Americans weren’t considered to be U.S. citizens. When the 14th amendment was ratified in 1868, it gave blacks the right to vote but was interpreted to ignore Native Americans’ voting rights. In 1924, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, granting Native Americans all the legal rights of a U.S. citizen. However, despite their official status as citizens, Native Americans weren’t assured the right to vote nationwide for nearly forty more years.

Tribal lands often don’t get the same access to in-person, early voting or election funding as other places do, and it is a complicated process for Native Americans to register to vote, and even when they are registered there are many more obstacles with language barriers, factors like location, and tricky state laws that have made voting near impossible for Native Americans.

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Under the guise of the 2020 “stolen election”, many Republican controlled state legislators passed oppressive voting laws aimed primarily at suppressing people of color from voting. Despite this, Colorado takes a huge step forward in the right direction, making history with senate bill 276. This bill will call for reforms to the voting process, and will expand voting access to tribal lands. Expanding automatic voter registration to included tribal membership list, with the help of this bill Colorado would be the first state to recognize Native American tribes and start to finally make the voting process fair and easier for everyone.

According to the Native American Rights Fund “The obstacles faced by Native voters are unreasonable and unfair and rob them of this political power. The fundamental promise of American democracy is that everyone can participate and effectuate change. We fight to honor that promise every day in courts across America.”

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