[R-G] Anti-Indian efforts trying to mess up Native voter registration in So. Dakota
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 30 08:00:18 MST 2002
Note by Hunterbear:
This is a long story in the current issue of Lakota Journal.
[I provide a substantial lead excerpt to the piece and
the Link to the full account.] At this point, the situation --
certainly par in one of the most anti-Indian settings in the
United States -- has gotten worse. From a small, rather
specialized Indian Law group to which I belong came the
request late last night to several of us as individuals for tactical
ideas. What follows is a portion of my initial response which
will be followed by one or two additional communications
from me. [I also comment on an interesting idea regarding
Florida -- some perky tactical thoughts!] Others are providing
very solid thoughts.
In the South Dakota situation -- not surprising given the traditionally
discriminatory Anglo ethos in the state -- it strikes me that the Justice
Department, whatever its current political inhibitions, has a clear and
explicit responsibility under the Voting Rights Act to immediately
investigate and intervene. I would hope and imagine that's already been
demanded formally -- and creative litigation, if necessary, should be able
to quickly force that Justice Dept intervention. In going after Justice
intervention, people should use all possible direct and indirect state and
national contacts forthwith. And, always, the more publicity the better --
nationally and internationally. Jennifer Ring, the ACLU staff person for
both Dakotas, is a capable person -- I know her to some extent and taught
with her late father, Ben, a good friend, at UND. I'd be surprised if she
isn't moving quickly on this -- especially given the massive voter suit
that's now in the works. But I hope that the Feds are being pressured hard
and vast from all directions, via the VR Act, to get into the South Dakota
mess pronto. These things have been happening in the South in very
contemporary times -- e.g., Alabama and Mississippi especially.
A related approach -- always effective -- are strong and well-organized
nonviolent protest demonstrations at the county locations where these
discriminatory maneuvers are underway. And then, in addition to the county
settings, a big one at Pierre. Accompanied by appropriate media usage,
demonstrations can accomplish a hell of a lot.
Finally, Indian people should keep right on keeping on -- voter
registration-wise. That is absolutely critical. And hopefully in rapidly
mounting numbers. It would be helpful to have observers/recorders at the
places of registration to provide moral support and also to record voter
rights violations. Law students work well in these situations. [Well
dressed, they are often taken as lawyers -- even as Feds -- by the
On the Florida thing, that's a wonderfully creative nonviolent tactic. It
to be reasonably well organized -- participants given some quickie training.
A problem is always that "interfering with a registrar" is an easily made
charge by the Adversaries. [I was arrested once on that when I simply
suggested that a registrar in a North Carolina situation comply with a
sweeping Federal voting order we'd just gotten via Morty Stavis and Bill
Kunstler and Arthur Kinoy.] What you all are advocating is an eminently
polite and sensible approach. Careful usage of media would be very useful
here. There is not, of course, much time --- and I would assume groups like
NAACP and local minority church leaders and congregations would be
necessary, immediate contacts. Properly done -- as many are certainly
committed in doing -- it can only help the Cause.
Voter registration fraud or Republican shenanigans?
By Ruth Steinberger Lakota Journal Correspondent
MARTIN - One week before the close of voter registration for the upcoming
elections, South Dakota Republicans have leveled charges of voter
registration fraud, aiming their comments directly at the voter registration
drive that has taken place on or near Indian reservations.
An aggressive voter registration campaign, spurred by a combination of
Indian empowerment organizations and the South Dakota Democratic Party, has
registered unprecedented numbers of Indian voters in the state.
The registration drive was an immediate and dramatic success.
Elections in Martin in June 2002, replaced the a mayor considered hostile
toward the Indian community, placed an Indian on the Martin School Board,
and replaced three incumbents in the primaries for the November 5 election
in Bennett County.
Jesse Claussen, Chairman of the LaCreek District Civil Rights Committee,
located in Martin, said, "Native Americans should be sitting in a really
good position with enough people to win our share of the local election."
If Republican county auditors and other officials have their way, this will
Organizers within the Indian community are concerned that exaggerated claims
of fraud may be a ploy to play on fears and prejudices about Indians and
Indian participation in the political process in order to heighten white
While Republicans have maintained that the problems are related to an effort
to increase voter turnout among Indians in South Dakota, activists maintain
that some of the problems may be related to efforts to prevent the voter
registration drives from being effective at getting Indians to the polls.
Awareness of voting issues has grown as South Dakota officials have become
the defendants in several voting rights lawsuits because of election
irregularities that allegedly violate civil rights of tribal members. In
May, 2000, the Voting Rights Project of the ACLU filed the largest voting
rights lawsuit in US history, alleging over 600 violations of the federal
Voting Rights Act by the State of South Dakota.
NOTE BY HUNTERBEAR: The massive ACLU voting suit in South
Dakota was filed in August, 2002 [not, 2000 as the story typo
[Rest of the long story at:
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
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