SD Indians Sue For Early Voting


By Stephanie Woodard

Native Americans have never had an easy time getting to vote in South Dakota. In 1977, the state attorney general dismissed the Voting Rights Act as an “absurdity” and advised state officials to ignore the federal law. The state didn’t allow Native Americans into polling places until the 1940s, though federal law had given them the right to vote in 1924. In 2004, a judge stopped poll watchers from following Native Americans out of voting places and taking down their license-plate numbers.

Through the years, Native Americans in South Dakota have filed more than 20 lawsuits over their right to vote.

This month, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe went to court. In the upcoming presidential balloting, tribal members will have only six days of early voting, when the rest of the state has 46 days to cast early ballots in the primary and general elections.

Filed in federal court this month, the lawsuit contends the disparity is discriminatory, and amounts to “a denial of the right to vote.” One civic group has branded the state’s practice “a back door poll tax.”

The Oglalas’ complaint names state and county officials, including Jason Gant, secretary of state and overseer of elections for South Dakota, and the commissioners of Shannon County, which is roughly contiguous with the Oglala’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and oversees state and national elections there.

“I understand why the plaintiffs want what every other citizen gets, but we’re simply out of money,” said the head of Shannon County’s commission, Lyla Hutchison.

Gant’s official website shows he is not just secretary of state but treasurer of Committed to Victory, a PAC whose purpose is “to elect Republican candidates,” according to documents Gant (as treasurer) submitted to Gant (as secretary of state) in 2011. The website also shows Shannon County with 10 times as many Democrats as Republicans. Of 7,683 registered voters, 5,890 are Democrats; another 588 are Republicans. The rest are mostly Independents.

Oglala Lakota voting-rights plaintiffs (left to right) Dawn Black Bull, Clarice Mesteth and Donovan L. Steele leaving a conference call with their attorney Steven Sandven. / Photo courtesy of subjects.

The Oglalas’ suit demands that Gant advance impoverished Shannon County its share of Help America Vote Act funds, which are intended to facilitate the running of elections. The complaint cites the protections of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and other measures.

After the suit was filed, Gant told a local news outlet that as a matter of policy, South Dakota doesn’t provide money under the federal voting act upfront, but rather reimburses districts for election expenditures upon presentation of receipts. Federal rules do not require the practice, but rather allow states to set the terms for distributing the money, according to Bryan Whitener, a spokesman for the federal Election Assistance Commission, which provides guidance on the law.

Is the strict reimbursement requirement aimed at limiting early voting by those who are both unlikely to vote Republican and likely to cast their ballots early? “That is absolutely and utterly false,” said Gant.

In the quest for full enfranchisement, South Dakota’s Native Americans have brought lawsuits that charged gerrymandering, demands for forms of identity that are not required, failure to provide sufficient polling places and intimidation.

In 2010, the state settled an American Civil Liberties Union suit by agreeing to restore the voting rights of Native Americans who were improperly removed from voter rolls. For decades, South Dakota avoided U.S. Department of Justice “pre-clearance”–a type of oversight the Voting Rights Act applies to proposed election-law changes in places with a history of discrimination. A federal court found in 2005 that when South Dakota finally agreed to DOJ scrutiny, a backlog of more than 700 laws needed vetting.

The current Oglala lawsuit focuses on early voting, which allows voters to cast ballots at designated places prior to an election and is particularly popular among Shannon County/Pine Ridge voters. Just 15 days of early voting in 2004 doubled the election turnout over 2000, when it was not available, according to O.J. Semans, head of the voting-rights group Four Directions, headquartered on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

However, Semans noted, Shannon County had early voting in 2004–and in 2010–only because Four Directions donated $15,000 and $5,000, respectively, to pay for it. This year, the group isn’t certain it can come up with another donation, said Semans, adding that, in any case, voters shouldn’t have to rely on unpredictable outside funding to get ballot box access.

The Shannon County/Pine Ridge plaintiffs filed their complaint early in 2012 so they could get voting issues settled well before the primary, according to their lawyer, Steven D. Sandven, of Sioux Falls. “My clients don’t want a last-minute scramble for the crumbs,” he said.

The lawsuit has garnered national attention. The Justice Department is reviewing it, according to spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa, and the American Civil Liberties Union is monitoring its progress, said attorney Robert Doody, head of the organization’s South Dakota office.

In a recent interview, Gant shifted his original position on the reimbursement issue, telling 100Reporters that Shannon County’s “funding difficulties” made it a special case, and saying that he wanted “to work something out.” He identified two sets of difficulties: Short-term, he’ll see if he can somehow help the county access HAVA money for its immediate election expenses, while ensuring he continues to meet federal accounting requirements–something he has done so far via the reimbursement procedure.

However, Gant said, the existing HAVA funding will last for just a few more election cycles; then it is gone, and long-term the county has to determine how it will pay for elections in addition to its citizens’ other needs. Said Gant: “We have to figure out what we can do to assist in making sure everyone has access to the ballot box.”

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation/Shannon County, South Dakota. / Photo by Stephanie Woodard

South Dakota’s policy of reimbursing for election expenses is “nothing new,” said the state’s assistant attorney general Richard M. Williams, who represents Gant in the latest lawsuit. For years, the state’s plan for allocating HAVA money has been filed with the Election Assistance Commission, which raised no objections, Williams said. “It applies to all counties, so it plays equally across the state,” he added.

Not so, said Greg Lembrich, legal director of Four Directions and senior associate of the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. “Reimbursements may sound reasonable, but the policy is effectively being used to delay and/or prevent counties with Indian reservations–and very tight budgets–from using HAVA funds. If you have no money to begin with, you can’t set up early voting and wait to be reimbursed.”

Back in Shannon County, its commissioners carved out the money for just six days of early voting by slashing expenditures to the bone–cutting back law enforcement and eliminating their own salaries and aid to the poor, among other items, said Hutchison. Their funds are so low because South Dakota counties tax land to finance their budgets, but most of Shannon County’s land is nontaxable, because it’s either tribally-owned or held in trust for the Oglala Sioux Tribe by the federal government, she explained.

Shannon County has other pressing economic and social issues. Its per-capita annual income of less than $8,000 makes it one of the poorest places in the nation, according to the 2010 Census. By most measures, unemployment tops 85 percent, and life expectancy for its almost entirely Native American population is comparable to Haiti’s. “For years, we were the poorest,” said Hutchison. “Now we’re second-poorest, because another mostly-Sioux county in South Dakota took our place.”

Poverty is, in fact, a major reason why area residents prize early voting. “A lot of us on Pine Ridge don’t have vehicles,” explained plaintiff and tribal member Clarice Mesteth. “During elections, those who have them drive long distances to give other people rides to the polls. Each round-trip can be a couple of hours, so having all the early-voting days we should, in addition to the general-election day, is important to us.”

Why not take advantage of early voting at the courthouse in Hot Springs, in adjacent Fall River County, which is an option for Shannon County residents? “One problem is that the round trip to Hot Springs is 4½ hours from some points in Shannon County,” said Mesteth.

“Another problem is that if you live on the [Pine Ridge Indian] reservation, your license plates start with a ’65.’ That makes us easily identifiable. The Fall River cops stop us for all kinds of things when we go there. They’ll say we were going one mile over the speed limit, or we’ve got snow on our license plates.” As a result, Mesteth said, tribal members rarely go to Hot Springs, and when they do, they car-pool to cut down on the number of traffic tickets they might receive–yet another set of hurdles on the way to the ballot box.

What about mail-in absentee ballots? “Given the hostility tribal members face when they leave the reservation, they don’t believe mail-in ballots will be counted,” said Sandven, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “Most–especially elders–feel more secure about casting votes in person.”

“Bottom line, ballot box access in South Dakota currently depends on personal wealth,” said Lembrich, who believes the state needs to establish a permanent means for providing regular early voting in Shannon County.

“You have less opportunity to vote in South Dakota if you don’t have a car, or don’t have gas money, or live on an isolated Indian reservation,” Lembrich said. “That’s not right.”

Stephanie Woodard

Stephanie Woodard

Stephanie Woodard, a member of 100Reporters, is an investigative journalist focusing on Native issues. She worked as an editor for over 20 years, and is currently a correspondent for Native-owned newsmagazine Indian Country Today. She has received Folio awards, as well as the Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting.
Stephanie Woodard

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  1. i am a native american a mixed blood but still a native american i found there are still many of the white people who think it is better if we hide in caves like quote”the animals we are” un quote they consider the native american to be no more than cave men and deserve no rights …i do hate to say this but we just might have to fight much harder to have our rights restored to us the black man thought they had it bad the short time they came here as slaves back in the 1800 what about the natives of this country we have been slaves to the white man long before the blackman came here….and we still do not have all of our rights the black man got theirs now where is ours…where are our rights under the constitution…do we have any even in this new year of 2013

  2. […] Here. An excerpt: Native Americans have never had an easy time getting to vote in South Dakota. In 1977, the state attorney general dismissed the Voting Rights Act as an “absurdity” and advised state officials to ignore the federal law. The state didn’t allow Native Americans into polling places until the 1940s, though federal law had given them the right to vote in 1924. In 2004, a judge stopped poll watchers from following Native Americans out of voting places and taking down their license-plate numbers. […]

  3. […] Here. An excerpt: Native Americans have never had an easy time getting to vote in South Dakota. In 1977, the state attorney general dismissed the Voting Rights Act as an “absurdity” and advised state officials to ignore the federal law. The state didn’t allow Native Americans into polling places until the 1940s, though federal law had given them the right to vote in 1924. In 2004, a judge stopped poll watchers from following Native Americans out of voting places and taking down their license-plate numbers. […]

  4. It is sickening that the republicans will go to lengths such as this to place their puppets in office all over this country.     ALL Americans have the right to vote.   Gant is a liar and a figurehead for the thugs who call themselves republicans.   The Native Americans of South Dakota have as much right to vote as any person in our country.   I thought I lived in  21st century  America, but this sounds like something out of  Hitler’s play book. 
    We need to stand behind these voters.  Call your  representatives in congress and complain, and shine the light on this story to get all the publicity possible.  There is power in numbers.

  5. You are absolutely correct.  The current republican party should be run out of the country.  We need to make them as obsolete as the dinosaur.  ALEC and David and Charles Koch , and all their cronies are doing every illegal thing imagineable to put republicans in every office nationwide.  And people, republicans are not going to help anyone but themselves and their WEALTHY friends.  The average citizen is a throw a way piece of trash to them.  They are behind the vote denial (that is what it is) in South Dakota  and it is disgusting.  ALL Americans are supposed to have the right to vote.

  6. Wow, South Dakota. Racism is alive and well and as one who grew up there, I look upon you and am ashamed.

  7. Once I read how many were registered Democrats (5890) vs. how many were registered Republicans (588), it all made sense…

  8. If you notice, all “Native” Americans gripe about the rights they have lost, or are not receiving from the government, and that their land was stolen from them.  Now notice that any gaming casino must be on “Native Indian” land, and the tribe(s) run the casinos.  So repeately, we hear about the  lands taken here, the lands taken there, etc., etc.  Well, my question is:  Who did the “Native Indians” get the land from?  Where are their “legal” rights to claim those lands?  We have, as a nation, absorbed ALL other nationalities, so why is the Indian so special that different rules, and payments to them continue to be made?  We do not pay reperations to the Irish, the German, the blacks, the hispanics (think of the land taken from them after Texas won it’s independance), the Chinnese, or any other minority within the United States borders!  We use the term “native american” to seperate the indian from all other races, yet the deffinition of “native” is one born in the country they reside in.  By this, I’m a “native” american too.  Where’s MY land, where’s MY government money, where’s MY government housing, where’s MY etc., etc.??  Oklahoma is the “Land of the Redman”, yet there are NO RESERVATIONS in Oklahoma.  What’s with this?  Reservation indians have a higher rate of poverty, as noted in this article, they have a higher rate of alcololism, a higher rate of health problems, a lower life span, and so on.  Why not close the reservations and absorb them into the population?  Indians who do not live on reservations have no trouble voting anywhere else do they?  Quit whinning about your situation(s) and join the rest of us. 

  9. Inhibiting the voting rights of this country’s only “True Americans” is a disgrace!  No matter how many generations your family has been here, if you’re not an American Indian; you were (once) an illegal alien.  Last time I checked, neither the English, the Spanish, nor the French were invited here.  Think about that.

  10. Voter suppression hypocrisy at it worst! Around the world, soldiers have fought for the rights of people to vote in the officials the best serve the needs of the people. In the US, we’ve had more and more attempts or the last few years to keep numbers down and to keep the established rules in place. This can no longer be accepted.

  11. Though technology has changed at a rapid pace over the last 150 years ignorance and racism still clings tenaciously to the narrow conservative mindset.  
    Selfish, self centered and short sighted, right wing ideology inhibits the uncompassionate unreflective brain, incapable of greater inclusion or depth beyond their own immediate race, religion or culture.

  12.   Why are reservations dependent on state funds?  Why are they, not afforded the same benefits as state governments? Every tribe in this nation which was sequestered into the current reservation system was granted sovereign rights separate from any state or territory. Each reservation must abide by the same laws and legislature as states.  Therefore it is obvious discrimination to exclude Reservations from any benefits offered by the federal government to states or to allow any state authority over an Indian Reservation for the purpose of distributing funds or other aid intended to aid in the appointment of Federal office or provide community disaster relief or otherwise maintain a standard of living equal to any other community within the confines of the United states of America or any of its territories.

  13. Jason Gant, secretary of state and overseer of elections for South Dakota [is also] treasurer of Committed to Victory, a PAC whose purpose is “to elect Republican candidates”….Is there any rational person who doesn’t think this is a conflict of interest and should not be allowed?  Is South Dakota really a third-world country?

  14. Yes, this in OUTRAGEOUS!  The Native Americans need an MLK to speer head equality in this area!  The rest of the country would be ashamed of S. Dakota if this news was wide spread…which I hope it is…

  15. They want a full service county government, while only allowing less than 15% of the land be taxable, and expect the state to fund the shortfall.  Sounds like more like a big city democrat operation than rural South Dakota.

    • Just because an indian reservation is next to a county does not mean that it should be subjected to that county or state. It is mistake for any Indian reservation to fallow that policy. As it is for any state to attempt to govern another state. Ther fore the argument should be taken to a federal level.  

  16. Something is wrong 85% unemployment, $8000 per capita income?  Does this article make sense?  They want to vote and don’t want to send in their ballots by mail?  Nobody caught this?
    Okay STEPHANIE WOODARD the author of the article is an ultraliberal who has made her reputation bringing up arcane, farfetched, erroneous and ridiculous articles about native American Indians. Billions of dollars have been spent on attempts to assimilate the native American Indians into the American culture and have them participate.  They have staunchly refused.  
           Now we have another ultraliberal activist who refuses to demand that the the native American Indians use their lands and education to better themselves.  
           They pay no income taxes, no sales taxes, no real estate taxes, in fact they take everything the government offers and gives nothing back. Now they demand more time to vote and do not want to even mail in their votes.  They demand an average of $2.00 per vote for someone to set up special voting places they can vote from and have those voting places staffed for 7 weeks. 
           Notice that STEPHANIE WOODARD did not state what percentage of the people voted in the last election.  American native Indians are notorious for not voting.  
           If they want to have polling places staffed for 7 weeks prior to the election day, then they should pay for it themselves, otherwise order the ballots, stick a stamp on it and mail it.
           Jesus no income tax, no sales tax, no gasoline tax, no real estate tax, and yet they want special treatment. They get free mail service.  They get their roads cleared by the government. They can use all the services that any other person not living on the reservation can use. I imagine they all are on welfare and get food stamps. 
           A case of of another minority dictating to the majority that they want more money to waste. 

    • MONEY TO WASTE!!!   pjmarn6, you are not the sharpest tool in the shed are you?!  You say the Indians(and i say that out of respect) we didnt choose to be called Native Americans, someone else did, but  thats a another issue, lets get back to the one at hand, let me quote some of your iggnorant remarks, billions of dollars spent on attempts to assimilate indians, saying we staunchly refused, well we didnt staunchly refuse, we just didnt want your ways shoved down our throats,  the white man( thats the old lingo) i could have used better vocabulary, i guess, if i had any respect for this person that is, but i dont, then you go on to say something about using our lands and education to better ourselves, i think thats the most sensible thing you have said, and i agree, so just as soon as the Black Hills are returned to the rightful owners, which that would be US, not you, but the Indians, we would love to educate and better ourselves and to live freely in the beauty of our earth, and teach our children our ways, about peace and giving back to the earth, and you can honor a mans word.  Do you really think that the indians get everything free,  you complain about us having no income tax, no sales tax, gas tax, real estate tax, and free mail, and heres the best one yet,  we want special treatment, wow!   we dont want anything from you, WE NEVER DID!   it is you(the white man) who wanted something from us, and when we refused, you killed women and children, and men and took it from us and forced us to live on your reservations, not ours, yours!  And here is the one that makes me so so sad, your remark “i imagine they all are on welfare and get food stamps”   that just shows how uneducated you are and what a empty soul you have, you need to do some reading and educate yourself about the Sioux’s and the wars that were fought, and when you get done, you can close the book just like your closed mind, and get the hell of our property, we have been trying to tell you this for many many yrs, and no we dont want any money for the black hills, we want our freedom and our sacred hills back, and nothing less!!  and by the way, my name is Lisa La Croix,  and i am proud to be a sioux indian.    whats your name?

      • Greetings Lisa,  I am also a proud Native American of the Eastern Shoshone tribe.I have had many friends from S.D. and I know how bad and unjust South Dakota really is.I am not surprised at the ignorence and hostility towards native americans I feel very bad for anyone who has to live on any reservation in the U.S.The government put our people on the reservations so they would die off from diseases and starvation.Our people were totally isolated so that the other population the white man could steal all of our land and natural resourses which they are still doing to this very day.Our ancesters had to fight just to survive, the German natzi’s learned every evil under the sun on how to commit the perfect genocide from the U.S.government.Still the native americans have fought in world war 1 world war 2 ,with the Navajo codetalkers who helped win the war against Japan.the Korean war,Vietnam,Persian Gulf,war on Iraq etc. they willingly laid their lives down for this so called government,which is really controlled by The Federal Reserve,the Rockefellors,Rothschilds,the Carlyle group (OPEC) these are the real people in power and all of us are really enslaved to these robber barons to this day!Only congress can get rid of this cartal THE FEDERAL RESERVE.Congress will never get rid of the federal reserve,that is their bread and butter!!!All people of this country better get their facts straight because we are all being robbed and stripped of our rights Take care Lisa P.B.

  17. Obviously, you can’t vote the bad guys out of office, if the bad guys can prevent you from voting.  If the “right to vote” is indeed a fundamental right of this nation, according to the fundamental law, then it should be enforced vigorously, fully, and fairly.  That requires adequate funding at a national level to supplement inadequate funding at a local level.  

    If the right to vote is NOT a fundamental right, then fundamental law needs to be changed, before the self-appointed (the bad guys) seize outright and permanent control and the opportunity is lost.  This must apply to enforcement and interpretation of fundamental law as well.

    In any case, in action and deed, as well as in word, this nation needs to fully commit to the principles that we have apparently been hypocritically using to tout, justify, and evangelize our way of life to the world:
         “One person, one vote.”*
         “This is a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.”*

    Continued “Lip service” just makes this nation a “wolf in sheep’s clothes.”

    * – Source unknown.

    (c) 2012

  18. typical GNOP  ….. back in the Bush/ Gore stolen election In Duval county Fla (Jacksonville) the oldest voting machines, which often didn’t work, were placed in heavily black precincts. Thousands of ballots were never counted which given voting trends among minorities, would have given Gore way more than enough votes to win

  19. This is an outrage! If  they don’t win their lawsuit then maybe those of us who live outside of South Dakota need to mobilize.   Fly in, rent a bus or cars and help transport people to the polls.  We can show other Americans that the 99% are a force that can’t be denied.  

    • You want your tax dollar to pay some people to sit for 7 weeks at polling places so that 20-30 people per day can come in and maybe vote? Remember the person has to be paid to sit there and the location has to be rented. Food and drink and travel expenses have to be provided.  
      STEPHANIE WOODARD claims have to be verified.  She also stated that the population didn’t trust the unmarked envelopes to be opened and counted.  They do trust the American government to send them their welfare checks and foot stamps don’t they?

      • Your ending statement reveals a very stereotypical bias.  Indian reservations As in most American communities  employ  doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Businessmen and other professionals. There are also qualified volunteers in many communities willing to dedicate their time and effort to the fair and equal voting process which distinguishes our country even in its most economically challenged communities as a Government for the People

        • EXACTLY! Yes, and I truly believe every vote should be counted and would be very happy to see volunteers sit and count those votes.  I would volunteer but happen to be elsewhere

      • Yes, just as we can count on the American government and it’s citizens to steal (thieve) everything they can of value from Natives and dish it back to us in little survival squirts.

  20. This is the old practice of keep “em down when you’ve got ’em down. Conservatives view it as preserving “True american values”. Just ask ACORN.

  21. It’s hard to believe that in this United States of America the NATIVE American is being denied their right to vote.  I can’t believe what dirty tricks these county employees go to to insure the these fine people do not have a say so in Their government.  Snow on the license plate?  That’s a laugh.  What ignorant people you have in South Dakota.

    • I don’t care on which side of this article you fall, but do not generalize and call South Dakotans ignorant.   How many people in this country can’t even find South Dakota on a map, and you call *them* the ignorant ones?!?!?!?

  22. What’s with law enforcement in that state intimidating people if they dare leave the reservations and hitting them with de facto fines in the form of bogus traffic tickets?

  23. So True-may God help them  The republican party wants to keep it republican and keep others who vote against them away from voting.–Several carlods of people should get together and bring as many people to Hot Springs as posible All at one TIME.  There are only so many[3 or 4] cops and they cannot stop everone. GOOD LUCK!!!  The Dewman

  24. Having grown up in South Dakota, I can honestly say those actions by South Dakota are nothing new.  And the tip of the iceberg.

    South Dakota is the Missouri of the Midwest and the Misery of the West.

  25. Mobile voting buses should be sent to all accessibly challenged areas, and in good weather pull out the canopy and set up booths outside, but for rain, vote in the bus. Simple. Schedule them for otherwise convenient times chosen by the area, like market days; and post the schedule. They could be in parks, and we could dispense with the clumsy setups always so hard to find…I say we should all use them! They could troll through neighborhoods like the ice cream man,  with a little bell….

  26. I would have thought that given this day and age that the U.S. had pulled out of discrimination and even hate crimes against it’s citizens. I thought wrong and I think the Fed.’s need to intervene and do something about the voting situation. As well as any crooked ass cops. If I was there and many cops started to pull me over for no reason it would be one hell of a shoot out! It’s disgusting to have this country still acting like a bunch of dumb asses. I’ve actually thought of moving to another country as my embarrasment grows.

    • I’ve also thought of leaving. I have many friends from different nations around the world and I feel embarrassed for my country when I read stories like this. How can we say that we are invading Iraq to free them from a tyrant (once the WMD excuse was debunked)  so that the people can have a say in the government and then pull this kind of thing.  Unfortunately it’s not all that uncommon.

  27. We (the gov’t) need to qiut messing with the Native Americans. I am a caucasion of German decent and I feel the heartbreak of the mistreatment of Native Americans as I feel the heartbreak of what the Germans have done in the past. I would hope there is only a minority that feel differently. Keep fighting for your rights.

  28. What’s wrong with everyone just voting on Election Day and that’s it? With today’s technology, and an ID, you could even have remote absentee voting from any polling place in the country, and from every military base, or U.S. Embassy or consulate in the world.  Then all US Citizens would all vote once, on the same day, all you need to do is show up to do it. Democracy is all about showing up to be heard. I don’t mind the “Vote Mobile” idea, I am just not sure it is necessary, and  someone who is able bodied and can make it out to vote will complain that there are not enough of them in “area O” which they will then say is racist, sexist, anti democratic party, anti republican party and so on.  Considering that our government spent $160,000 on a study to find out the affect drawing an X on an opponent with your finger would have on them and if you could hex them into losing, I am pretty sure we could actually provide the ID’s and have the taxpayer pick up the tab without too much kerfuffle

    • I suppose you have a good paying job and park your @#$% in front of a computer all day long, get in your nice car, and drive 15 minutes to good restaurant when you want to eat.  Wake up and realize that many people in this country don’t live much better than people in a third world country.  I don’t even believe that you actually read the article. 

      • Dear Auntpoodle,
        I read the article, twice in fact to see if my anger warranted a response. I don’t think that any race, creed, color, class, should be treated differently than any other. Therefore I proposed a solution that would serve all Americans, regardless of nation of origin, color, religion, etc. All American citizens should have the same rights, and I find what is happening reprehensible and we need a change. I simply put forward a change that we could all live with: All Americans can vote, All Americans vote on the same day, All Americans have an identification card, All Americans can and will be provided with such a card for free if needed.
        As for your other taunts about my work and everything else, before you assume to know me, which you don’t, you just want to label me, you should know my parents worked in a factory, I did not graduate from High School, I took my 9th grade education and started an company at the age of 20 and employ over 200 people – people who have healthcare, 401K, dental, and other benefits, so please don’t tell me I don’t know, I  lived in a park for over a year at age 17 coming to terms with my life and what I would become. I looked at people I resented and secretly wanted to be and chose a path in life that would allow me to prosper. It did not happen overnight, it took years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication which I am proud of. This is something you can really only do in a few countries in the WORLD, so yes I am thankful that I live in the USA, drive an awesome car, come home to my wonderful home and family because I know that had I lived in Mexico, Sweden, Cuba, or nearly anywhere else “THIS” would not be possible. If you don’t have, it’s because you don’t try, and there is someone out there willing to sell you on the idea that it’s not your fault, it’s mine… I have 200 employees that would tell you it’s not my fault and who are grateful to have a great place to come to work every day even though they are all smarter than their boss….   

  29. Like many others who posted here I’m also Native American (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa). I’m also a Republican.

    People like Jason Gant don’t represent my values or the values of any my Conservative family or friends. We want the same thing that most Democrats want.. We want what we believe is best for America. And what is best for America is that people like Jason Gant sit in prison until they learn to respect our laws.

  30. Seems like there are more problems than whether they can vote more than 6 days(Which is more than the 1 there use to be and people voted). Maybe more than 15% should be working?  That seems to be the issue here, and then one might ask why they are not working.  Seems to be very consistent on most tribal lands that the locals do not work and expect hand-outs. 
    They have other options that would allow for re-imbursement of expenditures.  Sounds to me that the people suing are more interested in more free -hand-outs than ensuring that the locals are better prepared for life. 

    • How do you breath talking with your head up you know where? Have you been to Shannon County? Why do you assume these people don’t want to work? Those unemployment statistics have been pretty constant even before Bush 2 set us off to war in two countries on a credit card. And how do you feel about big oil companies “hand-outs” or closer to home, farmers paid to not grow crops on their land. I could go on, but I hope I’ve made a point.
      Our Constitution applies to every citizen, whether you like it or not. Read a book and stop being an ignorant bigot. Lets all pray you have not procreated.

  31.  An elected official doing the dirty work for the GOP and thinking their is no conflict of interest? What they don’t know is that many of us know how to read and write. Also we are very proficient in the evil ways that they spew from their fowl mouths and call truth. When they die, they will experience the damnation of their souls. This they sell for money a man made idol of truth. Your book of God says you shall reap what you sow and I have no fellings for these devils with forked tongues and neither will this Jesus savior!

  32. One possible solution: Do the absentee (mailed) ballots, but provide Tribal reps to observe the counting process to ensure there is fair and legal handling of the ballots. In my state, final disposition of each mailed ballot is a public record. If a ballot is rejected, the reason must be clearly alllowed under law and documented. It is common to see public oversight of the counting on election nights. Election officials should welcome such public participation to guarantee the credibility of their system. Using the USPS also offers a level of security for the timely delivery of ballots to the elections office.

    • Um… Aren’t there already tribal reps on the board of commissioners?  Can you spot them?

      Commissioners:District 1: Bryan J KehnDistrict 2: Deloris HagmanDistrict 3: Eugenio B White HawkDistrict 4: Wendell Yellow BullDistrict 5: Lyla Hutchison

      They are already are watching the store and they don’t trust their own people with absentee ballots?  What’s up with that?

      • the concern is not of ballot protection but one of porviding the same amount of  time to vote as other communities..a verry diferent and important issue

  33. I am Native American and this just proves that the Crooks in Public Office continue to Violate Our Rights. These Criminals stole over One Trillion Dollars out of the Native American Trust Fund and used it on themselves and nobody is going to prison over it. They have a lot of blood on their hands and they will have to account for their acts to a Higher Power, No One escapes from Judgement in the end, those who do Right get Rewarded and those who do Wrong get great punishment forever and ever……..

    • We should not have to wait for “forever”. We need to collect these debts back now. We will not be able to do that through the government, even BHO’s government. Possibly through Ron Paul’s but he will never be POTUS. We have a hughly organized but deranged elite. Every human ‘group’ has a parasitic elite. We do too. Every once in a while an elite will become ‘deranged’ and voraciously attack its own host. Typically this is the end of the ‘group’ as a coherent polity as it descends into greed and, ultimately, extreme and widespread violence and death and destruction and is absorbed by the groups around it. We need to perform a radical elitectomy. Nothing else will do. We need to recover our stolen wealth even if we can’t recover all of the lives we have given and taken for the advancement of our crazed elite. We need to sever the maw of the parasite which is sunk deep into our national energies and is sucking us dry, this Federal Reserve for the benefit and political convenience of the rothschild empire. We are already in “interesting” times. We can mitigate some of that “interesting” part if we act now rather than waiting until we are 100% enslaved, personality coded, and constantly surveiled. Personality Code 1A (clinical psychopath) will be in demand. We need to remove them now. They are an extraConstitutional group and have no rights under our system including freedom. Their behavior includes the ability to justify and institute mass murder. They are the masters and the sycophants (psychophants) of the masters, the wouldbes. There is a great illness in our national control structure. We must cure it or die as a country, at the very least. Or we initiate the Restoration, reset to U.S. Constitution circa 1820 and, with the benefit of hindsight, re-argue all of the changes and interpretations since then but without the distraction of lying politicians and media (they went with the elitectomy). Re-argue our country on the basis of our national experience. The interpretation of freedom. Does freedom lose meaning when one element attached to the group has freedom to enslave the rest? Chains do not the slave make, loss of options in general is what makes the slave. The Golden Rule: He who has the gold, rules.

    • Isn’t that like the ex New Jersey Gov with all the hundreds of millions missing from customer accounts that his company was managing. Whats happened to that guy? 

  34. It is shameful that this is happening in our country. I think the bookmobile idea is interesting and should be considered.

    • They cannot be “ashamed”. They do not know what shame is. That is part of the definition of psychopath. The most descriptive portrait of a psychopath is the corporation. Ever heard of a corporation feeling shame? Don’t trust shame. They have none. Trust your fellow American and build bridges. We’ll get them. But only if we are united. We are experiencing a real threat to America and need to unite.

  35. I thought these people were a sovereign
    nation of their own and if so then why are they allowed to vote? This is the
    same as foreign countries that have diplomats in the U.S. allowing them to
    vote; maybe they should raise their voice. In my state they do not drive around
    for the elderly and disabled but for Democrats to win election dead people

    • Sovereign nation sort of. Sovereign means they get to do what they see fit with out outside forces approving their actions. Native American nations are still controlled very strongly by the federal government. With this control they need to be able to have input into the government that is controlling them.

    • They are the residue of sovereign nations whom we have destroyed. Their culture is strong and does not want to die. Their wisdom is needed. Their help, your help, the help of all of us together is needed because we are all in the same melting pot and are currently being turned by our ‘authorities’ into constant conflict slag metal. We need to recognise the person in the foxhole next to us, and the person in the foxhole across the political way and understand that we have way more in common as Americans than we differ as whatever secondary perceptual identity we may personally embrace. And it is our collective America that is at greater risk right now than at any time in our past including at Fort Sumpter. We need to unite. If the elite can get us to do it to fight their wars, we should be able to do it on our own when it’s our own best interests at stake. We need to remove our elite and their mechanisms and take back our money. They have stolen enough. They have killed enough.

    • Indigenous people from this cotenant have participated in every military action here in the past 20,000 years and in the last 100 years have sacrificed many “Red Blooded ” Americans in the name of Democracy and the American way of life.
      Sovereign rights are pretty much the same as state right so you basically said that anybody who lives in a state is not should not be allowed to vote in a federal election.

  36. Just another case to prove Republicans really dont’t belive in democracy?  They will steal, bribe, and threaten just to get elected. They play the game like a bunch of street thugs.  These are the inti-Americans!

  37. If it is difficult to get people to the voting place, take the place to the people.  Similar to a Book Mobile from the library, why not a Vote Mobile to travel the outlaying areas.  Without Obama-like motor home extravagances, it could be cost effective.

    • Perfect Idea! The State Could do these then wait for reimburstment. The ounty is broke, well it’s the States responsibility to get out and get the votes of ALL AMERICANS.

  38. Is this America? This situation is worse than what happens in many third world countries! And these officials go unpunished all these years.

  39. Just like it was to stop Blacks from voting in the deep south in the 1960s South Dakota is unlawfully doing the same to these American citizens. The federal goverment should use the same laws and
     federal marshalls if it has to,to make sure that the right to vote in South Dakota is protected, I feel
    that this Justice department will do that.

    • I’m sorry to say, “good luck on that” until there is a complete cleanout of the current people in the US Government “WE” the Native American’s”  simply said, WE WERE HERE FIRST! Now give us back our God given rights. I do not live in South Dakota but I see a lot of discrimination all over, especially the Indians.

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