Every Native Vote Counts: 2016 National Election right around the corner

October 7, 2016


Roberto A. Jackson

Gila River Indian News


The countdown to Election Day is ticking away with every passing minute. Voting booths will be waiting for every registered voter to cast ballots in the presidential race, as well as for statewide candidates, legislative candidates, judges and two ballot measures for the Nov. 8 general election.


Native American voters will be counted on to make an impact come November and that is why programs like “Native Vote” are looking to increase the number of American Indians participating in the political process.


“Native Vote,” is an initiative coordinated by the National Congress of American Indians to register Native voters and to provide information regarding the upcoming election.


This election is extremely important, but if this were the 1940s and not the 2010s, then millions of eligible voters would be on the sidelines, because Native Americans were not always allowed to participate in the electoral process.


"As Native Americans, we have struggled to make our voices heard," said Pamela Pasqual, District 4.


It wasn’t until 1924 when Native Americans born in the U.S. were granted citizenship.


However many states shunned Native Americans from the polls since the Constitution still allowed the states to dictate who could register to vote.


In 1928 Gila River Indian Community members Peter Porter and Rudolph Johnson were denied the right to vote in Pinal County and a legal battle ensued to get their names on the voting register. Although the case (Porter v. Hall) lost in the Arizona Supreme Court, it was still an important moment in the fight for Native Americans to gain suffrage.


In 1947 Frank Harrison and Harry Austin, from the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, attempted to vote in Maricopa County but they were denied by the Recorder’s Office. In 1948, thanks to a suit filed by Harrison and Austin, the Arizona State Supreme Court overturned Porter v. Hall and Arizona Natives could vote in state elections.


However, many obstacles remained.


Native voting numbers remained low for many years due, in large part, to Arizona’s English literacy requirement, which kept many Natives from voting at a time when there was high illiteracy rates among the American Indian population in Arizona. These tests were eventually banned in the 1970s.


Yet with the long legal history designed to exclude Native Americans from voting, approximately 1 million eligible Native American voters are still not registered to vote according to the National Congress of American Indians. "Our quality of life can improve by voting," said Pasqual.


According to the National Congress of American Indians, with 23 tribes in Arizona, American Indians and Alaska Natives comprise of 5.5 percent of the overall state population and 4.9 percent of Arizonans who are 18 and over.


"I think that today is the most vital and crucial time for Native Americans to vote," said Sylvia McCabe, District 6.


When you arrive at the polls, bring sufficient photo ID, which includes a valid Arizona driver's license, valid Arizona non-operating identification card, tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal ID or a valid U.S. federal, state, or local government issued ID.


If you don’t have a sufficient photo ID you’ll need two forms of sufficient ID without a photograph that bears your name and address. These may include an Indian census card, valid Arizona vehicle registration among others. The full list can be viewed at www.azcleanelections.gov.


Upcoming Election Candidates


President & Vice President of the United States


Candidate for President (REP)


Trump, Donald J.


Candidate for Vice President (REP)


Pence, Michael R.


Candidate for President (DEM)


Clinton, Hillary


Candidate for Vice President (DEM)


Kaine, Tim


Candidate for President (LBT)


Johnson, Gary


Candidate for Vice President (LBT)


Weld, Bill


Candidate for President (GRN)


Stein, Jill


Candidate for Vice President (GRN)


Baraka, Ajamu


U.S. Senator


McCain, John (REP)


Kirkpatrick, Ann (DEM)


Swing, Gary (GRN)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 1


Babeu, Paul (REP)


O’Halleran, Tom (DEM)


Parrish, Ray (GRN)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 2


McSally, Martha (REP)


Heinz, Matt (DEM)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 3


Grijalva, Raúl (DEM)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 4


Gosar, Paul (REP)


Weisser, Mikel (DEM)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 5


Biggs, Andy (REP)


Fuentes, Talia (DEM)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 6


Schweikert, David (REP)


Williamson, W. John (DEM)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 7


Nunez, Eve (REP)


Gallego, Ruben (DEM)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 8


Franks, Trent (REP)


Salazar, Mark (GRN)


U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 9


Giles, Dave (REP)


Sinema, Kyrsten (DEM)