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Politics and Policy
KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

White House report details barriers for Indigenous voters

A person is painting an artistic depiction of the word “vote” on a wall.
Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall and Kema

News brief

The Biden administration released a report Thursday detailing the barriers Indigenous voters face. It also recommends solutions federal, state and local governments should take.

Some of the barriers highlighted in the report include extreme distances to polls, lack of standard addresses and language barriers.

Austin Weahkee is the political director of NM Native Vote and is Cochiti, Zuni and Navajo. He says removing these barriers is necessary for voter engagement.

“We saw record turnout in 2020. We saw that Native voters can make a difference. They can win or lose a candidate just by virtue of showing up to the polls,” Weahkee said.

He says one problem is tribal, state, and federal governments using different polling locations on Election Day — one man he knows almost had to walk six hours to vote in 2020, but received a ride to his second polling station.

Some of the report’s recommendations include adding post offices in tribal lands, ensuring reliable internet access, and clearly accepting tribal ID cards as forms of government ID.

Weahkee hopes the report pushes lawmakers to pass federal voting rights legislation.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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