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“I think the National Congress of American Indians can be proud of what they have done to engage American Indians and Alaska Natives to vote,”
said Tova Wang to the Native News Network on Tuesday.
“I think more and more leadership is realizing to improve the lives in communities, American Indians and Alaska Natives are going to have to engage in the political process.”
In order to get more engagement, voter registration is key according to the report's Analysis.
One strong recommendation of the report makes is to have Indian Health Services serves as voter registration agencies, which is allowable under the auspices of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Congress enacted the law with a bipartisan majority to increase voting participation. Part of the law included a provision to increase voter registration. President Clinton the next year signed Executive Order 12926 directing federal agencies, upon request by a state, to agree to be designated as a voter registration agency.
Indian Health Services makes sense in Indian Country to serve as voter registration agencies since IHS provides a comprehensive health services delivery system for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in 35 states.
Further, IHS could possibly reach urban American Indians since it has 34 health programs across the United States.
In order to implement the recommendation at IHS facilities, the employees who serve would need to have training that includes knowing the basics of the National Voter Registration Act and HIS' role in serving as a designated agency; ensuring the voter registration forms are filled out properly; understanding the strict prohibition on partisanship and strict rules of confidentiality.
Whether or not it is too late for this presidential election cycle is not known, but with now, less than 140 days, left, it will be interesting to see how Indian Health Services responds.
posted June 20, 2012 5:40 pm edt