LLVOTES: Impact of the Native Vote

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CASS LAKE-Native Americans have only been able to vote for less than 60 years, and still to this day fight against voter suppression, making exercising your right to vote all the more powerful.  

In a study done by the Native American Rights Fund, it was found that only 66 percent of the known eligible Native American voting population is registered to vote. There are over 1,000,000 eligible Native American voters (18+) in the United States who are not registered. 

There are 574 federally recognized Indian tribes, nearly 6.8 million American Indian and Alaskan Natives living in the United States. Of those, approximately 4.7 million are over the age of 18 and eligible to vote. 

If Tribal communities come together to actively vote in all elections, large change can come from our voice alone.  

Native voters have impacted elections for candidates from both major political parties: 

  • 2002, South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) was re-elected by 500 votes when the final votes were counted on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 
  • 2010, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK) credited her victory in large part to mobilized Alaska Native voters that supported her unorthodox win through a write-in election. 
  • 2012, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) attributed her 1 percent margin win to the Native vote. 
  • 2006, Montana, Senator John Tester (D-MT) won by the slim margin of 3,562 votes. There are over 50,000 voting-age Native Americans in Montana with more than 17,000 votes coming from the Indian reservations. Tester’s 2012 win was also attributed largely to the Native vote. 
  • 2016, Michigan had one of the closest margins in the 2016 Presidential Election with a margin of 0.3 percent. With more than 100,000 Native people age 18+ in Michigan, the Native people eligible to vote was 4x more than the margin of victory in that state. 
  • 2020, Native American voters in the state of Arizona swung the state in favor of Biden. the three counties that overlap with the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation voted for Biden at a rate of 57%, as opposed to 51% statewide. Voter precincts on the Navajo Nation ranged from 60-90% for Biden. 

Community members who reside outside of the State, can visit their official state website to find an example ballot alongside candidate platforms, polling locations and candidate websites.   

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