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Effort underway to increase Native American participation in the 2020 election and census

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

A group is working to increase the Native American vote in North Dakota.

North Dakota Native Vote was actually started in 2018, to try and fight the state’s new election law, that required everyone who votes to have a physical address. Many people on the reservations only had a post office box.

A federal judge upheld the law. Now the group is hoping to work to make sure those who are eligible to vote get to cast that vote.

"While some work is being done for that, we're definitely not to the place where we need to be to fully reach our voting capacity," said group board member Tawny Cale. She is an enrolled tribal member at Standing Rock. She now lives in Minot.

The group’s president, Lisa Deville, is from Mandaree, and is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. Deville said educating tribal members is the key.

"Our next step is to get out there and go to each reservation, and get people to understand that they need to get out and vote," Deville said in an interview.

Deville said the 2018 election showed a record number of Native Americans going to the polls.

The group wants to stress the importance of tribal members being counted in the 2020 Census.

"Our goal is to have a complete count in the 2020 Census," Cale said.

The group has a nine-member board. Group members say they’re looking for volunteers to help in the voter education effort.

Gov. Doug Burgum has said he wants every eligible voter to be able to cast ballots in the 2020 elections.

The state is undertaking an effort to identify street addresses on the reservations. It's part of the "enhanced 911" project.

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