Proposed restrictions would make voting harder for Arizona’s tribal communities

By Lillian Clark | Arizona Mirror

Native American voters helped secure President Joe Biden’s narrow win in 2020, but Republican-backed proposals at the state legislature to restrict voting access could make the challenges tribal voters overcame last year even more daunting in 2022.

“We have the lowest voter turnout of any minority group in the country, period,” said Navajo Nation member and Democratic state Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren. “We already have so many barriers in access to voting in general that any voter suppression bill would only increase that disparity.”

One bill would require proof of identification with mail-in ballots, which Torey Dolan said will create difficulties for Native voters. Dolan is a Native Vote fellow at Arizona State University’s Indian Law Clinic and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

“Photocopying is not really an option for folks that do not have printers or computers, let alone the Native American folks in Arizona that don’t have access to electricity or running water,” said Dolan.

The alternative forms of ID the bill would allow, like utility bills, bank or property tax statements, also tend to be less accessible to Native Americans, she said. Natives living on reservations don’t pay state property taxes, and utility bills just aren’t a given.

“Arizona election law did not consider the lived realities of Native Americans before 2020,” said Dolan

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