Education of Individuals or Groups
Knowing your rights as a voter is critically important, especially for those who do not actively participate in the political process. Native Vote can play an important role in getting this information to your community.
Each community should accommodate voters who have special voting barriers, such as second-language speakers, victims of abuse, ex-felons, homeless persons, and those with disabilities. In recent years, much work has been done to address the voting needs of these constituencies. For example, when victims of domestic violence register to vote, their information is strictly confidential. In addition, resources are available to help homeless voters establish residency. Public education, combined with community organization, can make a tremendous difference in voter protection throughout Indian Country.
Voting Rights Hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE
Native Vote is part of the Election Protection Coalition that was established to protect the rights of citizens across the country. It has established a hotline to respond to the questions and concerns of voters. This hotline is used to identify problems before they arise, answer voter questions, and serve as a “crisis line” in the event of Election Day problems.
Oklahoma Indian Bar Association Hotline
Oklahoma Voters may report any issues to the Oklahoma Indian Bar Association Election Protection Hotline: 1-877-286-2918 (toll free) or 405-602-9425. The hotline will be staffed from 8:00 to 7:00 CST on election day for VOTER ASSISTANCE and ELECTION PROTECTION purposes. They have also set up a special voter assist website for Oklahoma, which is www.oiba.net.
Training of Citizen Advocates and Legal Experts
Widespread training of citizen advocates will help keep our elections fair and clean. With training, ordinary citizens become the “eyes and ears” of democracy. They watch for problems at the polls, assist voters, and report irregularities if they arise. Election law is not complicated, but it is essential that advocates know the rules and hold election officials accountable. A simple training program can give people the knowledge they need to ensure a fair environment at the polls. Training is essential for people who are interested in poll monitoring or poll watching on Election Day. The rules for these positions vary by locality and must be understood by volunteers.
In addition to training citizen advocates, it is also important to create a well-trained legal team of lawyers, law students, and para-professionals who have particular knowledge of Indian Country and Election law. Native Vote is working with the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law and Four Directions to provide assistance in election protection for Indian Country.
If irregularities occur, it is important to document them well. This includes names and full contact information of those whose rights may have been violated. Also, thorough descriptions of the incidents and names and contact information of the witnesses is helpful. This information must be forwarded to the respective governmental body that is responsible for guaranteeing the election. If the problem resides in the bodies themselves, then report the incident to other legal entities, such as the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights Under Law, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), or the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice.
This summary only provides general guidelines. It is not legal advice. Organizations should consult with an attorney on specific questions.