National | Politics

Native Sun News: Indian voters lobby for local polling station

Lakota Homes polling station open for business Nov. 6
By Native Sun News Staff

RAPID CITY — The placement of a new polling site in the Lakota Community Homes neighborhood of Rapid City will make it easier for the area’s voters — especially Native American voters — to cast their ballots.

The polling station, which will be inside the Oyate Center of Lakota Community Homes, is located at 2430 Gnugnuska Drive. The Oyate Center is the neighborhood’s designated youth center.

The polling station, which was used for the first time in June, was placed at the location in Lakota Community Homes to make voting more accessible to Rapid City residents who live north of Interstate 90.

Located just behind Lakota Homes’ management offices, the polling station serves Ward 4, Precinct 3 (Precinct 4-3), which encompasses Lakota Homes and its majority Native American population.

It was originally placed in Lakota Homes as a response to lobbying that was done by Native citizens of Rapid City who had complained of difficulty in getting to other polling places in the city.

“The idea originated from Native American constituents. It’s been a request for many, many years,” said Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker in an email to Native Sun News.

He said the polling place in Lakota Homes was initially established in the fall of 2011 during the redistricting which happens once every 10 years.

According to Kooiker, the site is available for use by any voter — Native American or non-Native American — who lives in Ward 4, Precinct 3, which is roughly the neighborhood on both sides of Haines Avenue north of Interstate 90.

Reaction to the site has been subdued — something the mayor attributes to people utilizing early voting.

“Overall the reaction was quiet, but positive,” Kooiker said. “Since many people now vote early, it’s not as much of an issue, but voters who live north of the Interstate do appreciate being able to vote north of the Interstate rather than at Horace Mann (Elementary School), Bethel Assembly (Church) or the (Pennington County) Courthouse.”

Some voters said they had trouble finding the site during June voting. However, Kooiker said the county plans on easing people’s concerns by placing signs all around Precinct 4-3 to better direct people to the polling station.

The Lakota Community Homes polling site will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those in the precinct wishing to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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