Native Americans Marched to Vote, Many Were Still Turned Away
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 alternativewe are still are hopeful that would be pickedin 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.