Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice are proposing legislation to increase voter access for Native Americans. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, Arizona counties are already following the department’s recommendations.
Coconino, Navajo and Apache counties all have polling places spread throughout the Navajo Nation. This complies with a Justice Department suggestion that there is at least one polling place within each tribal community.
“In Coconino County on the Navajo Nation, we have polling places located in each of the chapters, which is how the reservation is divided up in the tribal government. We also have a polling place at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for the Havasupai tribe,” says Patty Hansen, the Coconino County Recorder.
The Justice Department also wants workers at the polls to have the same equipment, training and hours of operation as workers outside native lands.
Though Coconino County also complies with these recommendations, Hansen says voter turnout on the Navajo Nation has been on the decline and remains low for the Havasupai and Hopi Nations. In the last election, registered voter turnout on reservations in Coconino County was around 45%.