Native Americans, like other minority groups, continue to face racially-motivated disenfranchisement efforts. Watershed victories for equal access to the ballot—such as the passage of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments—did not affect Native Americans because, by and large, they were not considered American citizens until the Indian Citizenship Act was passed in 1924. The Act only nominally enfranchised Native Americans, however, given states’ use of a variety of disenfranchisement tactics. Early disenfranchisement tactics included literacy tests and facially-neutral laws that prohibited Native Americans from voting (e.g., denying the franchise to “Indians not taxed”). Modern disenfranchisement techniques include gerrymandering, vote dilution, and voter identification laws. These disenfranchisement techniques compound other barriers Native Americans face in voting, including geographical constraints, cultural differences, and longstanding Native exclusion from state economic and political life.
Tribes and tribal advocates have primarily used the Voting Rights Act to combat voter suppression. However, the Court’s decision in Shelby County significantly weakened statutory protections against voter disenfranchisement. Using litigation to ensure equal access to the ballot also has drawbacks: it is costly, time-consuming, and its results do not always provide lasting solutions. A legislative fix is needed to address the extensive barriers that Native Americans face in voting. However, given the states’ history of animosity toward tribes, this Article argues that the legislative solution must come from the federal government. Under the federal trust responsibility, the Elections Clause, and other constitutional provisions, Congress arguably has both the power and the obligation to enact voting legislation aimed at remedying Native voter suppression.
Sean Young∞ In Voters Strike Back: Litigating Against Modern Voter Intimidation, Ben Cady and Tom Glazer make an important contribution to the discourse among voting rights advocates over the best ways to vindicate the fundamental right to vote in the
Voting rights advocates should explore section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act as a vehicle to combat voter intimidation.
We’re playing the long-game here. I really believe in that MLK quote—that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.
In an effort to remedy the financial distress Michigan cities faced after the 2007 recession, the Michigan state legislature passed 2012 Public Act 436 ("PA 436"), the "Local Financial Stability and Choice Act." Under PA 436, state-appointed emergency managers act