Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 51

SPECIAL SEC TION
Advocates argued that, as a result of the
ban, Montana voters on the Flathead Indian
Reservation must drive three and a half hours
roundtrip from Dixon to the Sanders County
courthouse. On the Duckwater reservation in
Nye County, Nevada, the nearest in-person
early voting and election day voting location is
at least a five-hour roundtrip drive because of
road conditions and the mountainous terrain.
With high rates of poverty in Indian Country,
many don't have reliable transportation or
any at all.

In April this year, De León went before the
House Subcommittee on Elections of the
Committee on Administration to share findings
from a series of field hearings conducted by
the NARF and the Native American Voting
Rights Coalition on the state of voting rights
in Indian Country. More than 120 witnesses
from dozens of tribes from seven states
shared their personal experiences when they
tried to vote.
Elvis Norquay of the Turtle Mountain Band of
Chippewa Indians testified that he was turned
away at the polls in 2014 because of North
Dakota's ID requirement. The U.S. Marine Corps
veteran who had been living on a reservation
for 30 years didn't have a home and an address
and couldn't afford an ID.
In addition to distance from the polls, advocates
pointed out other barriers such as unequal
access to online registration, restrictions on
access to voter registration forms, unequal
funding for voting activities in Indian communities, language barriers, limited pre-election
information and outreach, and a lack of Native
American election workers.
"Then there are the disrespectful actions
that communicate very clearly that [Native
Americans'] vote is not wanted," De León says.
They internalize it and don't vote because it's a

LAYERS OF DIFFICULTY
According to the National Congress of American
Indians, voter turnout of American Indian and
Alaska Native registered voters is 5 percent to 14
percent lower than those of other racial and
ethnic groups.
Participation is relatively high in Nevada, South
Dakota, Arizona, and New Mexico, where 2,687
survey respondents shared their difficulties when
trying to register and vote in elections. The
Native American Voting Rights Coalition, made
up of nonprofits, lawyers, organizers, advocates,
Native Nations, and academics, conducted the
survey to identify policy reforms that would
hopefully improve the experience for Native
American voters.
Surveys done just before the 2016 general
election showed 56 percent of South Dakota
respondents and 60 percent of Nevada respondents said they voted in non-tribal elections; 65
percent of respondents in Arizona and 69
percent of respondents in New Mexico said they
voted in the presidential election. Between 69
percent and 72 percent of respondents said they
were registered, meaning about 30 percent were
not. In most cases, respondents did not know
how or where to register.
The surveys found that there were very few voter
registration drives in the Native community
compared to other communities of color. And
while the National Voter Registration Act requires
that the DMV and social service agencies offer to
assist clients to register to vote, some were found
to be not in compliance.
Having a nontraditional address creates another
layer of difficulty for those who try to register.
According to the survey results, "Arizona and
New Mexico's voter registration forms provide a
space to draw a map locating the nearest intersection, but the spaces are small, and this
method often leads to registrars arbitrarily
assigning a precinct that may be inappropriate
and may result in that person not showing up on
that precinct's voter list."
Online registration is only helpful for those who
have internet access. "It's like the digital divide,"
Ferguson-Bohnee says. "Most reservations are in
rural areas where there's high poverty, no access
to computers, and they don't have standard
addresses. Their realities are different than offreservation voters."

Native American Rights Fund

Voter turnout of American Indian
and Alaska Native registered
voters is 5 percent to 14 percent
lower than those of other racial
and ethnic groups.

hassle. It takes a lot of effort, and when you do,
you may be greeted with hostility."

Jacqueline De León
There have been wins among the challenges.
Most recently, Native American tribes in North
Dakota landed a major victory in February when
they settled a pair of lawsuits challenging the
state's restrictive voter identification requirements. The state agreed to allow residents of
reservations to register and vote in 2020 even
if they couldn't present an ID with a residential
address.
There is hope that the Native American Voting
Rights Act, already passed in Washington State,
will be enacted at the federal level. For now,
advocates are paying close attention to new
election practices and battling fires state by state
to help remove barriers for voters in Indian
Country.
"These new tools seem neutral but could undermine the Native American community. A lot has
to be done," Ferguson-Bohnee says.

Stacy Julien is a regular contributor to Washington
Lawyer.

JUNE 2020

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

51



Washington Lawyer - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2020

YOUR VOICE
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
ON FURTHER REVIEW
THE LEARNING CURVE
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - YOUR VOICE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE LEARNING CURVE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover4
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