Native nonprofits are registering Nevadans to vote through food pop-ups
Nevada’s midterm elections include several tight races that could come down to how parts of the electorate, like Nevada’s Native communities, vote.
Rulon Pete, executive director of the Las Vegas Indian Center, is typically in the southern part of the state. But earlier this week, he was outside the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum. He had a booth set up next to several cooks who were making Indian tacos.
Together, they were getting people registered to vote, and he says food is a great way to connect.
“I think it just kind of helps ... making people feel comfortable, making people feel like they can come out and see this, as opposed to having a discussion or a lecture,” said Pete.
Next to him was Beverly Harry, who set up a fry station and a grill. There were a couple of options, but they all started with fry bread.
Harry says she’s been doing this for the past few months now — going from community to community, serving up free fry bread in exchange for a chat and getting people registered to vote.
“That’s the difference; it’s totally ineffective trying to get people registered to vote,” said Harry in regards to canvassing and other typical ways of getting people registered.
“I’m not chasing anybody down,” she said. “The way I do it, people come to me.”
Later this week, she’ll be in Elko doing the same thing. She’s been teaming up with other nonprofits throughout Northern Nevada to make this work happen.
Pete’s work is nonpartisan; he’s more focused on getting Native voters to the polls, and he said getting lunch is a great way to make politics approachable.
Someday, he’d like to see more Indigenous leaders in state and national politics because they would be better equipped to address issues unique to Native communities, he added.
Before a politician thinks about getting these votes, Pete says they first have to consider what Nevada’s 20 different tribes are encountering on the daily — and no two are entirely the same.
According the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday, there are 1,803,923 active registered voters in Nevada.