National | Politics

Indian voting rights lawsuit carries impact in Senate election

An Indian voting rights case in Montana could affect the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, The Hill newspaper reports.

The plaintiffs in Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch want the state to establish satellite voting offices on their reservations. A federal judge rejected the request so the case is now before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the state opens the offices, Indian advocates say more reservation residents will participate in elections. That will almost certainly help Democratic candidates, who have historically received the overwhelmingly share of votes in Indian Country.

“Native Americans are about 6 percent of the population, so it’s absolutely significant" that they participate, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) told the Hill. Tester first won his seat in a close 2006 election with the help of Indian voters.

With Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) retiring next year, the Democratic party could benefit from a strong turnout in Indian Country. Democrat Denise Juneau, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, is said to be considering a run.

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch (D) has said she doesn't have the authority to force counties to open satellite offices.

Get the Story:
Native American tribes’ lawsuit could decide who controls Senate in 2015 (The Hill 7/16)

Related Stories:
Denise Juneau mentioned as a potential candidate for Senate (7/15)
Jessie James-Hawley: Montana county encourages Indian vote (04/23)
Dustin Monroe: Native vote carries a strong impact in Montana (04/08)
DOJ and NCAI file briefs in Montana Indian voting rights case (03/28)
Dustin Monroe: Montana bill limits Indian voter participation (03/25)

Join the Conversation