Western Native Voice
After its first hearing February 27, HB 613 - the Native Voting Rights Act had bipartisan support. Western Native Voice is in strong support of HB 613 because of the immense positive impact it would have for rural tribal communities in Montana. This bill introduced February 24, sponsored by Sharon Stewart-Peregoy (D) HD42, will ensure Montana’s most geographically isolated voters will have equitable access to participate fully within our democracy.
Distance to polling and registration locations, as well as the cost of travel and the time it takes to get there, are all barriers to voting for those living on reservations. It is not uncommon for tribal members to have to travel more than 100 miles to cast a vote. This takes time, money, organizing childcare, gas, and food. These are all barriers to election participation. Permanent, full-service satellite voting on reservations would improve voter access and participation because it would cut the distance, cost, and time for voters living on a reservation, and also permit these voters to register and cast a ballot with a single visit.
“At today’s hearing they attached an appropriations amendment on the bill which allows us to work with both sides of the aisle. This is great news. This bill will push us forward and make Montana one of the leaders in the United States in terms of Native voting rights. I am hopeful the direction this bill is headed and excited to work with the committee going forward to make this even a better bill," said Keaton Sunchild, WNV Political Director.
Western Native Voice and others will work to continue to advocate for the voting rights of all Montanans.
About Western Native Voice
Western Native Voice is a non-profit, non-partisan social justice organization working to inspire Native leadership through community organizing, education, leadership, and advocacy. With 7% of Montana’s population being Native American living almost evenly split between reservation and urban areas, WNV organizes in both rural and urban communities using a culturally tailored community organizing and citizen education model to build Native leadership.