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Tribes Waiting For Ruling On Voting Access

Noah Glick
(from left): Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Chairman Vinton Hawley and Walker River Paiute Tribe Chairman Bobby D. Sanchez gather with native veterans outside the federal courthouse in Reno.

Following a tribal voting rights hearing in a federal court in Nevada, a judge will decide on a request to order election officials to put satellite polling places at two Native American communities.

Reno Public Radio's Marcus Lavergne reports.

Lawyers for the Paiute Pyramid Lake and Walker River tribes told U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno, Tuesday, that tribe members are being denied equal access to the ballot box.

The attorneys say the state, along with Washoe and Mineral counties are violating the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 by refusing their request to set up satellite polls similar to those provided in wealthier, mostly white neighborhoods.

"In Washoe County, there's 22 early voting sights: one in Incline Village up on Lake Tahoe, which is about 75 miles round trip, one in Sun City, then 14 in Reno and six in Sparks. So pretty easy if you're in Reno/Sparks to walk around and find one."

That was Bret Healy from the advocacy group Four Directions, the tribes' consultant.

Lawyers for the state and counties deny any discrimination.

They say it's simply too late to accommodate the request, with the election just five weeks away.

Marcus Lavergne is a former on-air host at KUNR Public Radio.
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