Election centric reporter's roundtable

Indian Country Today

For this week's election centric Reporter Roundtable we're joined by Washington Post reporter Dana Hedgpeth and Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher.

As we wrap up election week and break down the results so far, we are joined by two journalists who can add to that conversation. Dana Hedgpeth is a reporter with the Washington Post and Savannah Maher is a reporter with Wyoming Public Radio.

Some quotes from today's show:

Dana Hedgpeth:

"Well, it's been very important, never before has swing states played such a crucial role pre-election and now we're still dealing with counts in some of these swing states: Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, and Arizona. We're still in the midst of all of this and these are important states even before, and they're still remaining very important."

"It's very true. There are incredible boundaries even before the coronavirus had for those voting in Indian Country. But I think what's different is the groups that have really pushed people to get out the vote. They've done a great job. They always do a great job every election, I think, but this election more so than others. They've really told folks, we really have to fight through this, whether you get there safely of course, wear your mask, social distance, but going by horseback, even my children said wow, that is so great to see Native Americans using their voices through any means to get there."

"Fascinating, great images to just show the Native vote counts more so now than ever. Especially how powerful can your vote be to count in the presidential election. Really get to make their voice heard, and to be seen it's a powerful, powerful image. And I hope that it follows through to continue to get people to realize, Hey, your voice really matters."

"It's really interesting. I went through this morning and it changes so often, but you know, we're up to at least five lawsuits and Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Nevada, and the status of them keeps changing. It's all places where votes are either still being counted. Trump’s team is arguing, interestingly, in places where they want the votes, some places they want votes stopped, or when it doesn't look like it's in his favor and then other places they want them to keep counting."

"What's interesting is that this is the first time we've had elections that have felt like they’ve dragged out. I know many people who joke that this last week has felt like a year. Jumping back in history, in 1876 screen way beyond the 2000 election. We had this historic wait four months before it was decided between the Republican Hayes and the Democrat Tilden."

Savannah Maher:

"I've been watching. This morning what's going on in Arizona, I saw that the Navajo Times reported that turnout is actually up in the counties that include the Navajo Nation and many other tribes despite compounding barriers to voting in those places because of the coronavirus. And we all saw earlier this week when CNN labeled the Native vote 'something else' on a graphic. Arizona is one place where the 'something else' vote could really be making a pretty huge difference."

"I've been watching a couple of congressional races in my region, in the mountain west, and here in Wyoming, we had Lynette Grey Bull, who is the first known Native person to run for federal office. She ran for our at-large house seat against Liz Cheney and she lost by a wide margin. And so did a couple of other congressional candidates in this region, Paulette Jordan, who ran for a Senate seat in Idaho, Randy Soto, who ran for a house seat there. But I mean, one trend that I have noticed watching these candidates, is they all did lose in these deep red states. They were all fighting an uphill battle, but they succeeded in bringing a lot of issues that are important to tribes to the table. Like for example, here in Wyoming during the house debate, we had Liz Cheney and Lynette Grey Bull debating on issues like treaty rights and the impact of the pandemic on the Wind River Reservation and Lynette Grey Bull, challenging Cheney’s record on addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. And that was really big in a state like Wyoming. So you know, even though many of these candidates didn't succeed in this part of the country, their campaigns still made a big difference."

"And it's hard to introduce yourself to voters when you can't hold events in person. But I will say it was pretty special to see just how much her candidacy energized voters on the Wind River Reservation. And also we had four Native candidates running for state house seats. Three of them were running for the same seat. So only two of them made it into the state house, the two incumbents. But I think just having that many Native candidates on the ballot really got a lot of people excited and engaged. And there was a little uptick in voter turnout in the house district here that includes the Wind River Reservation. It was only a couple of hundred, which doesn't sound like a lot, but this is a very rural part of the country. And I think organizers here feel like that was a success considering all of the barriers to voting this year with the virus."

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.


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