Cibola Beacon: Udall Pushes to Improve Voter Access for Native Americans

Last week, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced he has joined several senators, including Jon Tester (D-Mont.), in introducing legislation to increase voter protections and access to the polls for Native Americans. Many Native Americans live in rural communities and are often forced to travel long distances to the closest polling location. According to the National Congress of American Indians, Native American voter turnout was 17 percent less than non-natives in 2012.

The Native American Voting Rights Act would expand access to the polls by requiring states to establish polling locations on reservations upon request from a tribe, including early voting locations in states that allow votes to be cast prior to Election Day. The bill also directs state election administrators to mail absentee ballots to the homes of all registered voters if requested by a tribe. Udall is a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Tester is the committee vice chairman.