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NCAI calling attention to voting rights as election approaches





The first Americans were the last to secure the right to vote and still face problems at the ballot box, the National Congress of American Indians says.

A number of states have passed voter identification laws or are considering them. But it's not always clear if tribal government IDs will be accepted at the polls.

Many Native voters, particularly in Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona and South Dakota, also need language assistance. But they have had to go to court to ensure ballots are offered in Native languages and to have translators on election day.

“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 1 million eligible Native voters were unregistered," NCAI President Jefferson Keel said.

NCAI joined a coalition of civil rights, social justice and faith-based organizations in declaring a "state of emergency" as the election approaches. The Native Vote 2012 effort aims to increase participation among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Get the Story:
She The People: ‘State of emergency’: Will voter-ID battles last until Election Day and beyond? (The Washington Post 9/20)