Indians still want the Voting Rights Act's protection
AP reports: Despite these achievements, tribes point to restrictive voting laws around the country. South Dakota's new voter identification law -- passed after Johnson's election -- requires residents to show photo identification at the polls, a problem for many on the reservations who don't have IDs. The law permits those without identification to sign an affidavit, but opponents argue there is confusion about what is allowed. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged other voter identification statutes seen as restrictive to Indians in Albuquerque, N.M. and Minnesota.
"The tribes are still very concerned about the targeted efforts to disenfranchise their vote," says Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. "We are having to change a mind-set that exists."
Others imply the problems are exaggerated. Chris Nelson, South Dakota's Republican secretary of state, focuses on the positive -- a huge differential in American Indian turnout between 2000 and 2004, after two major Senate races -- and says he has seen little evidence of voter intimidation.
Nelson says he is even willing to support removing some federal protections on South Dakota's reservations. Shannon and Todd Counties -- historically home to the state's largest population of American Indians -- are included in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, meaning that any major changes in election policy there must be federally approved. -- Sioux City Journal: American Indians still face obstacles in voting