Many might be surprised to hear that in the 2008 national election, over one million eligible American Indian and Alaska Natives (34 percent of the total Native population over 18) were not registered to vote. It’s easy to see how the Native vote could have a powerful impact on elections at all levels. In order to initiate a broader understanding of the power and impact of the Native vote, in 2012 the National Congress of American Indians initiated their Native Vote campaign and continue to work tirelessly to turn out larger and larger Native vote numbers each election season.
The focus of Native Vote remains multi-faceted. While encouraging Native people to participate in national elections, they also serve as a “watch-dog” and educator for the Native voting public. The campaign strives to educate voters and candidates alike on an array of key issues. They also act as a supportive foundation in encouraging more Native leaders to run for local, state, and federal office. Native Vote continues it work by diligently monitoring voter disenfranchisement issues and working with coordinators and tribal communities to address a variety of disenfranchising challenges in order to ensure that all Native Voters have equal access to their voting rights.
With a President now in office that actively seeks a working relationship with tribes across the nation, it is more important than ever to get involved and be counted. Start your own campaign in your local Native community by using NativeVote.org as a valuable resource. The organization is non-partisan initiative where voters may also link to state resources to help with voter registration of Native citizens. Visit them at www.nativevote.org. for a wealth of resource information, education materials, and Native Vote gear and supplies.
-Written by We R Native blog author Constance Owl, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina. firstname.lastname@example.org