The U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold two provisions of Arizona’s voting law that had started to stir up controversy on the Reservations. The largest part of this ruling is not allowing ballot harvesting to occur. Navajo activists are not happy with these rulings because they believe that this is a form of voter suppression by Republicans to prevent high turnout, fearing that the state will go from purple to blue.
President Biden won about 75% of the Navajo vote in this past election, and it is said to have been a key factor that led to Arizona going blue for the first time since President Clinton won back in 1996.
The provisions in Arizona’s voting laws that were upheld are that voters must vote in their assigned precinct or else that ballot will not be counted, and that you, a family caregiver, and election official, or apostle worker are able to deliver your ballot. Activists claim that because people on the reservations can sometimes live a great distance of over 15 miles to their precincts polling location, they are disincentivized to go to the polls. Another issue activists are not happy about is the postal service on the Reservations. It is traditionally not as reliable and the postal stations are not near all homes.
The Northeast Arizona Native Democrats are disappointed by this decision and they plan to strategize new ways to help Native American communities vote, using other means. One of the ways that they plan to help is by driving people to the polls to vote, in order to incentivize voters on the reservations to turnout by not having to drive to the polls themselves.
Arizona Republicans made stronger efforts to get their foot in the door with the Native American communities with their Natives for Trump Coalition. Former Vice President Mike Pence visited the Navajo Nation as well as CD-1 Congressional candidate Tiffany Shedd in 2020.
Michael O’Connor is the Chief Political Correspondent for the Western Tribune.