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Polling Places Removed From Native Reservation

Polling Places Removed From Native Reservation

Residents of Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota are protesting the county’s decision to remove three polling places from the tribe’s three precinct vicinity.

The Benson County Board of Commissioners cited the high costs of running the polls and training staff as reasons for their decision. Spirit Lake leaders offered to front the costs for recruiting and training poll workers as well as provide rent-free facilities, but the board declined, saying the costs would still be too high and that mail-in ballots are cheaper.

In a county where Natives account for 50 percent of all voters, this move will most certainly disenfranchise them. With only one poll location in the entire county, they will have to travel further and have a longer waiting time to cast their vote. While mail-in ballots may be cheaper, every voter should have the same methods available to cast their vote as every other voter in the U.S.

The tribe filed a lawsuit against the board earlier this month, but the judicial system will have to act quickly considering Election Day is near.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has publicly condemned the Benson County Board’s decision, commenting, “I want the U.S. attorney to review with the Justice Department the decision and determine whether there are actions that can be taken to compel the county to have a polling place on the reservation where people can cast their votes…I believe the state should reverse course on these election law changes and find ways to make it easier to vote rather than harder to vote.”

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152 comments

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7:59AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Nothing surprises me any more when it comes to acts like these.

1:12PM PST on Nov 23, 2010

This makes sense to me. native Americans have their own sentient nations, laws, and governments, and they make it clear that they want to be seen as such. But like most, they want their cake & eat it too. You cannot be/have both.

2:21PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Disheartening and in need of immediate correction.

1:34PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Nice to know that contemporary local politics are 100% free of underhanded manipulation (sarcasm intended).

8:01AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Maybe they're afraid the Injuns won't vote for the white men with forked tongues and who drink a lot of tea!

7:44AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Oh, just let the people vote. You took their land. You made them wards of the state. You marched them off to the worst land you could find. Now you take away their polling places?
THIS IS AMERICA!!! I thought that since the civil rights act we could all vote, even little ole Black female me!!!
Then you got mad because they started making money from the casinos and didn't have to include you and began living better than you. So you enacted laws to make them share the money, which incensed them so they closed them, now you get nothing.
So now you want them to 'mail' in their votes (which will probably get lost, or misplaced)?
Being African-American, I realize the necessity of voting. It gives you the right to imagine you are taking part in deciding what happens in America! NOT!!!
Let the people vote, near their homes, on the land you so generously gave them.
You allow the rich to maintain dual citizenship - what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

5:34AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

its amazing how such a basic right (voting) can so easily be limited. i hope they figure out something soon.

2:47AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

To Diana S:
Actually, dual nationality is permitted in the United States. "U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship." (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html)

1:05AM PDT on Nov 7, 2010

What crazies, making it even more difficult to vote, instead we should be encouraging them to vote.

Pure digusting.

JO

3:21PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

When has America come so low as to make it difficult for peolpe to vote.Sometimes I am so ashamed of this country.

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