WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, and U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and 13 of their Senate colleagues to introduce legislation to protect the right to vote and ensure equal access to the electoral process for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and People Living on Tribal lands. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Tom Cole (R-OK).
“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, but exercising that right remains too difficult for many Americans, especially those in historically disenfranchised communities,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will help address the challenges that many people in Native American and Tribal communities face that impact access to the ballot box. Our democracy works best when all citizens are able to participate, and this bill is an important step forward in making that a reality.”
“Voting is the most fundamental right in any democracy. We need a transparent election process that we can trust and where Americans have equal freedom to vote,” said Smith. “But right now, coordinated campaigns are trying to restrict the right to vote for Indigenous, Brown and Black Americans. Congress needs to pass the NAVRA Act to protect voters’ rights on Tribal lands and Tribe’s sovereignty in upholding those rights. I’m also pushing the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to continue defending our democratic process.”
The Frank Harrison, Elizabeth Peratrovich, and Miguel Trujillo Native American Voting Rights Act (NAVRA) would enact key measures to protect the right to vote and ensure equal access, including allowing Tribes to specify the number and location of requested voter registration sites, drop boxes, and polling locations on Tribal lands. It would also authorize Tribal ID cards for voting purposes. Additionally, the bill would secure $10 million to establish task forces focused on identifying barriers to voting for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and People Living on Tribal lands. The bill would also require prior Tribal notice and consent before States and local governments could remove, consolidate, or otherwise reduce access to voting locations on Tribal lands.
The legislation is led by Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jon Tester (D- MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in addition to Klobuchar and Smith. More than 30 voting rights and Tribal organizations have endorsed the legislation.
As Chairwoman of the Rules Committee, with jurisdiction over federal election law, Klobuchar has been a leading advocate for protecting the right to vote and increasing access to the electoral process. In March, she introduced the For the People Act with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to establish national standards for ballot access, ban partisan gerrymandering, and end the influence of dark money in elections. In July, under Klobuchar’s leadership the Rules Committee traveled to Georgia to hold its first field hearing in 20 years to spotlight the unprecedented attack on voting rights in the state.
Smith is also committed to fighting voter suppression and making sure Americans' voices are heard. She supports the For The People Act as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
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