Marci McLean *

Republished with permission from the blog from Mark Trahant's Blog, Trahant Reports, October 11, 2015,

A group working to strengthen Native American communities praised a directive by Montana’s secretary of state to set up satellite voting offices on Indian reservations.

In an announcement released yesterday, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch directed counties with American Indian reservations to work with tribal governments to establish satellite election offices to increase access to voting and registration if required under the Federal Voting Rights Act, and upon the request of the tribal government.

“We welcome and commend Linda McCulloch’s decision,” said Carol Juneau, Chair of Western Native Voice (WNV), based in Billings. “The directive is a good step towards opening up registration and voting in Indian Country. It fits with our goal to get these offices up and running on all reservations and isolated rural communities for the 2016 election including visible and accessible office locations, trained and paid staff, infrastructure for equipment and internet and proper oversight and accountability.”

Since 2014, WNV has worked with the secretary of state and county and tribal governments for equitable services for all rural Native voters. Juneau is a former state representative and senator who introduced satellite voting center legislation in 2005.

“We will continue our work on the ground to educate and encourage people to utilize the satellite offices in the 2016 elections,” Juneau said.

n 2014 WNV staff and volunteers deployed a robust voter education and Get-Out-the-Vote campaign to complement the satellite voting stations in Glacier and Big Horn counties.

“WNV is also urging strong outreach programs in the communities to notify residents of voting opportunities and availability,” Juneau said. “The tribal governments will play a critical role in assessment and implementation.”

Marci McLean is Executive Director Western Native Voice.