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Stories from the KUNR newsroom and regional partners related to the 2022 elections

Nye County is denying the Yomba Shoshone Tribe an on-site polling location during Election Day

A sign with an American flag illustration and arrow says “Vote here” and “Vote aqui.”
Erik Hersman
Flickr Creative Commons
Updated: November 4, 2022 at 5:19 PM PDT
As of Friday afternoon, Nye County will provide a polling location at the Yomba Community Center north of the Yomba Tribal Council building in the Reese River Valley. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

The county is urging family and friends of people living in the area to help spread the word.

In the heart of Nevada, the Yomba Shoshone Tribe is still waiting for a polling site to be approved by Nye County for Election Day. Even though a request was submitted before the deadline, the county says the tribe missed its chance.

In emails obtained by KUNR, outgoing county clerk Sandra Merlino confirmed to a tribal liaison she had received the request by the deadline of August 1 but wrote, “There will be a new clerk appointed as of August 6th so I will make sure he is aware of this.”

Mark Kampf is the new clerk she spoke about.

“Nothing has been brought to my attention regarding this application,” he said. “Nor was it provided to me in the transition from the previous clerk.”

But that’s not good enough for Bret Healy, a consultant for Four Directions, a nonprofit that’s played a role in expanding voting access in many of Nevada’s Tribal Nations.

“It is, in essence, the county claiming the dog ate their homework,” he said. “That somehow there’s not enough competence in Nye County to have transitioned from one official to the next.”

He says the lack of a polling site on the reservation strips away voting rights; the closest place to vote is about two hours away, and an in-person location would allow people to register and vote on the same day.

“Eligible voters who are not yet registered simply are not going to have any chance to vote,” Healy said. “Because the regular registration period ended on October 11th. And the right to request an absentee ballot ended on the 25th of October.”

Healy adds there’s still time to fix things and points to a recent Elko County lawsuit filed to allow extended voting hours for the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.

Kampf says he’s in communication with the Yomba Shoshone tribal administrator but didn’t elaborate if a polling site can be opened ahead of the November 8 election.

KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck contributed to this report.

Follow Gustavo Sagrero on social media. @gus.chavo on Instagram, and @goose_chavo on Twitter.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Gustavo Sagrero is a former bilingual reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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