South Dakota county resists settlement in Indian voting case

Thomas Poor Bear. Photo by Native Sun News

A South Dakota county is refusing to settle an Indian voting rights case even though it could secure federal funds to place a polling site on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Thomas Poor Bear, the vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked Jackson County to establish a voter registration office on the reservation so that members won't have to make a one-hour round trip to Kadoka. But rather than accept Help America Vote Act funds to establish the poling site, the county is fighting.

“Every week that goes by that they keep fighting is another week they have to pay both sides,” Bret Healy, a spokesperson for Four Directions who was deposed as part of the lawsuit, told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

The plaintiffs want the polling site place in Wamblee, where the population is 95 percent Native American. In contrast, the county seat in Kadoka is 95 percent White.

S.1912, the Native American Voting Rights Act, would require states to establish polling sites on reservations at the request of tribes. It was written to address cases that have arisen in Montana and South Dakota.

Get the Story:
Voting rights case enters costly phase (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 8/16)

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