State of Emergencyon Voting Rights Declared
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON The National Congress of American Indians has joined forces with a broad coalition of civil rights, social justice and faith-based organizations, and groups representing communities of color today declared a
state of emergency on voting rights in the United States.
At issue is the increase of restrictive voter laws in states across America. It is thought these restrictive voter laws are written to purposely discourage voting by certain communities of color.
Native News Network participated in a national press conference which featured various leaders from groups representing American Indians, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
Jacqueline Pata, Tlingit Tribe of Alaska, who is the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, represented Native Vote on the conference call.
“The first Americans were the last Americans to gain the rights to vote. In some cases they are still not guaranteed the right to vote. This is why this is a top priority for us,”
She cited instances of voter suppression in Indian country in past elections that has included change of polling locations without poor notification; failure to accept tribal photo identification cards at voting locations and hours of polling not properly posted
“Over the last century since securing our rightful place at the ballot box, Native people have remained one of the most disenfranchised group of voters in the United States. Today as a result, two out of every five eligible American Indian and Alaska Native voters are not registered to vote, in 2008 over one million eligible Native voters were unregistered,”
commented President Jefferson Keel, National Congress of American Indians, in prepared remarks
As National Voter Registration Day approaches on September 25th the coalition are calling on their communities to take a few simple steps to ensure that all those who are eligible have what they need to fully participate in our democracy by voting:
I think it is important that we don't get discouraged or disgruntled by these restrictive voting laws, but we inform our citizens to do these simple checks so they can cast their ballots,
stated Mark Morial, president of the National Urban League.
posted September 20, 2012 7:20 am edt