“What Stands in the Way of Native American Voters?”


Between 2008 and 2016, Sioux County averaged a voter turnout rate of 39.5 percent, the lowest among North Dakota’s 53 counties, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the North Dakota secretary of state’s office. Two other counties whose populations are majority Native American have the second- and third-lowest turnout in the state over the same period.

Standing Rock is one of six communities the Center for Public Integrity is profiling this month on the eve of a critical midterm election that will decide the balance of power in Washington. These communities are connected by their profound needs and sense of political abandonment at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration has declared the nation’s war on poverty “largely over and a success.”

There are many reasons why residents of Standing Rock don’t vote: the pressures associated with poverty, a sense of disenfranchisement and apathy, a lack of trust in government and politicians driven by unjust treatment of Native Americans over generations.

This election brings a new complication: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stay a lower court ruling allowing the state’s voter identification requirements to go into force for the November election.


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