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61 B.C. L. Rev. 1111 (2020)
American Indians and the Right to Vote: Why the Courts Are Not Enough

handle is hein.journals/bclr61 and id is 1128 raw text is: 



   Abstract: American  Indians and Alaska Natives face new barriers in exercising
   their fundamental right to vote. Recently, states have introduced and implement-
   ed facially neutral voting rules aimed at eliminating voter fraud. These rules, as
   well as strict voter identification and increased reliance on mail-in ballots, dis-
   proportionately suppress American Indian votes. The Voting Rights Act of 1965
   was critical in providing Americans Indians a way to challenge discriminatory
   practices, but the Act only partially addresses the problems American Indians
   face in voting. New federal legislation is necessary to address present-day barri-
   ers American Indians experience in accessing the ballot box. This Note explores
   the history of American Indian voting rights and current state policies that sup-
   press American Indian votes before arguing in support of federal legislation.


     In 2006,  Arizona  denied Agnes  Laughter,  an eighty-year-old  member   of
the Navajo  Nation, her right to vote because she did not have proper identifica-
tion.1 Determined  to exercise her rights in the next election, Laughter attempt-
ed to obtain an Arizona  state-issued photo identification card.2 She lacked  an
original birth certificate, however, because  she was  born  at her home  in the
rural community   of Chilchinbeto.3 After Laughter received  a delayed birth cer-
tificate, the Motor Vehicles Department   in Flagstaff incorrectly told Laughter

    ' Aura Bogado, Democracy in 'Suspense': Why Arizona's Native Voters Are in Peril, THE NA-
TION (Oct. 18, 2012), https://www.thenation.com/article/democracy-suspense-why-arizonas-native-
voters-are-peril/ [https://perma.cc/8KW6-V42M]. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, Utah,
and New Mexico, and has over 300,000 members. Id.
    2 Id. Arizona allows American Indians to vote with a photo tribal enrollment card, but the Navajo
Nation did not begin issuing these cards until November 2011. Id. Obtaining one of these tribal en-
rollment cards cost seventeen dollars when first issued, meaning members living in poverty could not
obtain a tribal enrollment card. Id.; Noel Lyn Smith, First Tribal ID Cards Issued, NAVAJO TIMES
(Nov. 17, 2011), http://www.navajotimes.com/news/2011/1111/111711ids.php [https://perma.cc/
H8B7-JPSW]. Arizona allows voters to present two forms of non-photo identification to vote, includ-
ing car registration, insurance cards, utility statements, or property tax statements. Bogado, supra note
1. Many Navajo Nation members, however, live below the poverty line, do not own cars, and do not
have access to utilities, so obtaining two forms of non-photo identification can be difficult. Id.
    3 Bogado, supra note 1. Chilchinbeto is a chapter of the Navajo Nation with approximately 1,300
members. Cindy Yurth, Most Neglected ? Chapter VP Says Most Neglected Chapter Is Chilchinbeto,
NAVAJO TIMES (Mar. 10, 2011), https://www.navajotimes.com/news/2011/0311/031011neglected.php
[https://perma.cc/4XLG-VGWZ]. The Navajo Nation is divided into five agencies, and each agency is
divided into chapters. Navajo Nation Chapters, NAVAJO NATION Gov'T, http://www.navajo-nsn.
gov/chapters.htm [https://perma.cc/34UG-FUG2].


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