In this Memorandum we emphasize the importance of the September 3 and 4, 2014, Department of Justice (DOJ) tribal teleconferences on whether DOJ should recommend legislation to Congress that would require election administrators whose territory includes tribal lands to place at least one polling place in a location chosen by the tribe. We reported on these planned teleconferences and an August 26 in-person consultation session in Flagstaff, Arizona in our General Memorandum 14-056 of July 25, 2014.
The September 3 and 4 teleconferences will be at 3 p.m. Eastern Time; the toll free number is 1-866-524-3160; ask to be connected to the U.S. DOJ call. Written comments are due to DOJ by September 12, 2014 (OTJ@usdoj.gov).
We attach a DOJ Dear Tribal Leader Letter and framing paper which provides background information and poses questions for your consideration, including:
• Should Congress require that states permit tribes to designate a polling place on tribal land if the tribe concludes that such a location would help provide tribal members a fair and equal opportunity to participate in the political process?
• How should the tribally-determined polling places be operated?
• Should the polling place requirement apply only to federal elections?
• Should Congress also require state or local election administrators to designate, upon the request of a federally recognized Indian tribe, a tribal office or agency as a site for voter legislation?
Of importance is for tribes to provide information regarding specific instances of impediments to voting in Indian Country – i.e., impediments caused by distance to polling places, voter ID requirements, issues with precinct assignments; lack of or insufficient language translation. Such examples are also of interest to the National Congress of American Indians which is collecting examples of voting impediments in Indian Country.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the DOJ proposal concerning tribally-designated polling places.