It’s five days until election day and the push is on in Indian Country to get out the vote.

An Associated Press story published in the Washington Post details what some groups have been doing to fight the “civic emergency” caused by low turnout in previous elections.

    A tribal newspaper in Arizona is publishing a detailed voter guide for the first time ever. A New Mexico pueblo is sending kindergartners home with get-out-the-vote buttons for their parents. Tribes in Wisconsin are reaching out to young adults with a Rock the Vote event.

    Native American communities nationwide are working hard to tap about 3 million Native American voters, hoping to turn around low voter participation that has persisted in Indian Country for decades. The push is being headed by the National Congress of American Indians, the largest group representing Native Americans, which calls low turnout a “civic emergency” — fueled by everything from language barriers and vast distances between polling places to high unemployment and poverty.

The National Congress of American Indians’ focus is in states with the highest Native populations – and where voter ID laws might inhibit participation.

    For example, in Alaska and Florida, tribal ID cards are not listed as acceptable forms of identification at the polls. In other states, address requirements pose difficulty for those tribal communities that lack street addresses. In Montana, Indians from the remote Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations sought an emergency order for satellite voting on reservations, arguing that the long distance they must travel to vote early, or register late, puts them at a disadvantage compared with white voters. A federal judge denied their request on Tuesday.

    The NCAI is pushing this year for the “largest Native vote in history,” but experts agree achieving a high turnout will be difficult.

Jenna Cederberg

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