/ Modified sep 29, 2020 4:45 p.m.

Voting advocates answer questions in virtual town hall geared for Native Americans

The panel of experts gave presentations that addressed historical and modern voting barriers for Native Americans.

Voting advocates came together Monday night to answer Native American Arizonans' questions about voting.

The experts represented All Voting is Local Arizona, Arizona State University's Indian Legal Clinic and Arizona Advocacy Network and Foundation, with Election Protection Arizona and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona also hosting.

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, the director of the Indian Legal Clinic at Arizona State University, said Native American voters in Arizona weren't able to exercise the right to vote till the early 1970s.

"We know that people will try to prevent others from voting when they think that their vote can make a difference, and I think that was what was happening in Arizona," Ferguson-Bohnee said.

Some of the barriers the speakers mentioned that hinder Native American voters are the lack of early and election day in-person voting sites, and a lack of street addresses on tribal lands, which can impact voter registration and mail-in voting.

"If you live on tribal lands and you have a nontraditional address, your physical address is not going to match the roster, and that should not be a reason why you're turned away to vote. It's not your fault that they don't put your address as you listed on your voter reg form or that's on your ID on the voter registration database," Ferguson-Bohnee said. "It just has to reasonably match."

Voters in Arizona need a photo ID with their name and address, like an Arizona driver's license or tribal enrollment ID, when they go to vote, but if someone doesn't have an updated photo ID, they can pick two forms of ID from a list of secondary IDs.

The morale of their story: People need to register to vote by Oct. 5, update their home address and make a voting plan.

The group suggested voters with questions call the ASU's Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project's hotline: 1-888-777-3831.

All Voting is Local also provided a Navajo translation of the event.

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