Montana to open voting offices on reservations

HELENA, Mont. — Montana will open satellite voting offices on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations in October as part of a settlement in a federal voting-rights lawsuit.

The offices will be open twice week for late registration and for voters to cast absentee ballots for the Nov. 4 general elections, the Great Falls Tribune reported in a story published Thursday (http://gftrib.com/1pptOVb ).

Last year, 12 Indian plaintiffs sued Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and elections officials in Blaine, Rosebud and Big Horn counties. They argued they had to drive long distances to county courthouses — in some instances, a more than 100 miles roundtrip — to register late and vote early in elections.

Their lawsuit said the lack of satellite offices made it difficult to vote in the 2012 elections and violated the federal Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices or procedures.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the ACLU of Montana and the national ACLU Voting Rights Project supported the plaintiffs’ claims that tribal members living on the three reservations are at a voting disadvantage compared to white voters in Rosebud, Blaine and Big Horn counties.

The defendants argued there could not have been voting rights violations because members of Indian tribes can and have elected tribal representatives to local and state offices.

Voter turnout on Montana reservations is about 30 percent, but turnout for tribal elections that require no long-distance travel is as high as 70 percent. The plaintiffs said the satellite offices could increase turnout in county, state and national elections.

County officials previously argued it would be too difficult to train workers for the satellite offices and to rent the equipment to run them.

Voting access on Election Day was not an issue in the lawsuit.

More in Local News

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

In adult court, four teens plead not guilty to murder

Prosecutors allege they worked together to plan and execute a drug robbery in Everett.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

Losing Mill Creek candidate wants to be declared the winner

Carmen Fisher sued to get the council seat now vacated by incumbent Sean Kelly, who lives elsewhere.

Most Read