Native Americans Marched to Vote, Many Were Still Turned Away
North Dakota's Heidi Heitkemp, historically a Native American voter's choice, loses in landslide to Trump ally.
Despite record numbers of Native Americans to the polls in North Dakota (thanks to the voter ID efforts), the candidate that had overwhelming support from them in previous elections, Heidi Heitkamp, lost in a landslide to Trump supporter Kevin Cramer (44.6%. vs. 55.4%).
Native voters topped turnouts from 2008 election with 5,100 votes from Native Americans, but activists still said poll workers turned away voters because of tribal identification letters or address discrepancies.
"You really see a juxtaposition between how eager people are here to vote, and how at every step of the way, it's being made as difficult as possible," says Carla Fredericks, director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School.
"To me, that's just tragic because I know our country, and especially Native communities and communities of color have a lot of issues with voter turnout," she says. "And while the voter turnout is really strong, the impediments that are in place just seem really out of line with our Democratic values."
Heitkamp's campaign, who won in 2012 with the Native American vote, stated previously that she planned to have attorneys at almost every polling station on reservations to call the county auditor if voters were turned away.
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said last week that Native Americans with new IDs would be able to vote, but said poll workers would "most likely" accept them. Lawyers asked for him to give guidance to county auditors prior to the election, and he said the request would be "considered."
OJ Semans, co-executive director of Four Directions, says some Standing Rock precincts ran out of ballots on Tuesday and had to get more because turnout was higher than anticipated.
What's a rising look like in Native Nation? Turtle Mountain Youth marching from the HS to the State Voting Polls!! It was an honor to walk among them in support!! #woke #NativeVote2018 #TmNation pic.twitter.com/Srk17naPtj
— Chairman Jamie Azure (@jamiepjten) November 6, 2018
Heitkamp, considered a moderate, centrist, voice, and the Senate's most vulnerable candidate, said in her concession speech: "We offered an alternative…we are still are hopeful that would be picked…in my case, it's not. It seems like such a bitter thing to lose a race, but the worst thing would be to not ever run, to not ever try."
Trump rallied in North Dakota three times to get his base to elect strong conservative Cramer, who voted with Trump 99 percent of the time.
"Can you imagine going home and telling your wife, 'I've been faithful to you 55 percent of the time?'" Mr. Cramer told a local radio show in April. "Are you kidding me? Being wrong half the time is not a good answer."
It was the Supreme Court who voted to suppress Native American votes.
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"The Trump administration's cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review," Jennifer Levi, of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said.
"Obviously we've had a second incident in several years," University of Oklahoma President James Gallogly said. "It shows that there must be something systemic. We have work to do."
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President Donald Trump signed legislation on Wednesday that said all furloughed workers would receive back pay once the government reopens. However, the Trump administration has ordered states not to provide unemployment coverage to federal workers who have been required to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday the U.S. Department of Labor sent states a letter with that mandate, according to NPR. The Department of Labor said the roughly 420,000 federal employees who are "essential" cannot file for unemployment as they are "generally ineligible."
It also reported 10,454 initial claims by federal workers for the week that ended Jan. 5, doubling the previous week's figure. Thousands more have applied since, state officials said.
Newsom said the decision by the Department of Labor's decision was "jaw-dropping."
"So, the good news is, we're going to do it, and shame on them," he said.
"From a moral perspective, there is no debate on this issue and we will blow back aggressively on the Department of Labor."
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) reports unemployment claims for one week during the shutdown are up 600 percent from the same time last year. The state has over 245,000 federal employees.
Newsom encouraged people to continue to apply while the state figured out how to get the money. He estimated benefits that would last up to 26 weeks and provided a few hundred extra dollars a month. He said he knows it doesn't fix everything, but hopefully it helps.
His message to Trump: "Let us states do the job you can't seem to do yourself."
Some state officials said they had asked utilities and other companies to extend mercy to federal employees, and the federal Office of Personnel Management published sample letters that furloughed employees could send to creditors to ask for patience.
Texas has received more than 2,900 claims from federal workers since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, while Ohio is approaching 700. Kansas reported 445 filings, and Alabama was closing in on 500. Montana said it had logged almost 1,500.
Trump tweeted on Friday that he would be making a "major announcement" on Saturday about the government shutdown.
I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
A senior administration official told CNN that Trump plans to offer Democrats another proposal to end the shutdown.
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