You Gotta Fight for the Right to Vote: Enfranchising Native American Voters

Source: Jeanette Wolfley, University of New Mexico – School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-05, 2015

From the abstract:
Five decades ago, the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since its passage, the Voting Right Act has created the opportunity to vote for many racial and language minorities across the country, and has survived many challenges until 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions involving voting rights in its 2012-2013 term. On June 25, 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, a divided Supreme Court struck down Section 4 – a key provision of the 1965 Voting Right Act (VRA) – as unconstitutional. On June 17, 2013, one week before the Shelby County decision, the Court decided another voting rights challenge. In Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the Court held that the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) preempted Arizona’s requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Certainly, this decision was not as symbolic as Shelby County, but nonetheless is significant for minority voters and voters in general. In the aftermath of Shelby County, many voting rights litigators and scholars are contemplating what the case means for the future of Black and Latino minority voting rights across the country. To date, however, scholars’ and practitioners’ reaction to and focus on the Shelby County decision has not considered or identified its impact on Indian voters or reservation residents. Accordingly, this Article seeks to fill the void by examining the Shelby County and Inter Tribal Council decisions and provides some insight and effective responses with regard to their impacts on Native American voters across Indian country.