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Lawmakers Address the Challenge of Native Voting Practices


Attorney General Eric Holder announced a plan of action that included requiring local and state authorities whose territory included tribal lands to place at least one polling place in an area recommended by tribal leaders. Holder went on to explain the difficulties faced by Natives trying to participate in elections, which have spurred him and the Justice Department to begin changes to current voting practices.

“All too often, tribal communities must contend with inaccessible polling places, reduced voting hours – and even requirements for mail-in, English-only ballots in places with low literacy rates and limited English proficiency," Holder said during his announcement. "“Let me be clear: these conditions are not only unacceptable – they’re outrageous.  As a nation, we cannot – and we will not – simply stand by as the voices of Native Americans are shut out of the democratic process."

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tony West also spoke out Monday at the National Congress of American Indians 2014 Midyear Conference in Anchorage, acknowledging the country's history in neglecting what he called the "First Americans" and promising action to prevent further abuses against American Indians and Alaska Natives in polling places.