As part of its mission to amplify Indigenous voices and lift Native communities, the Lakota People’s Law Project has focused for the past several years on getting Native people to the polls at election time. Working in partnership with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in 2018 and 2020, Lakota Law helped to lead massive get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, designed to increase voter turnout on Native nations.
In 2018, we helped double voter turnout over the previous midterm election in Standing Rock’s North Dakota districts. In response to North Dakota’s late-breaking change in voter ID laws passed just 14 days before the election, our team leapt into action. We helped with canvassing, organizing, and logistics, ultimately assisting more than 700 tribal members to secure new ID cards and their right to vote.
Then, in 2020, our team of 40 Native canvassers and phone bankers reached out to more than a quarter million voters — on Standing Rock and in other mostly Native communities in key states across the U.S. — helping tens of thousands to form and execute their vote plans to make their voices heard. Despite major barriers, including a massive COVID outbreak, Standing Rock members did an amazing job activating fellow tribal members and those from Native nations across the country.
Our combined efforts also engaged hundreds of thousands of voters via our advocacy and social media platforms, providing information on voter registration, polling, and ballot access.
Then, last year, we joined our colleagues at the Native American Rights Fund and Demos as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state of South Dakota for its repeated violations of the National Voter Registration Act. This suit was recently settled, with the state taking responsibility for upholding the law and giving all its citizens adequate opportunities to register and vote.
As we head into the contentious 2022 midterm election season, it’s up to all of us to continue to protect the right to vote for all our people — for the future of our democracy and the health of our planet.
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