Distance is a significant obstacle to voting access and election representation in Indian Country.
The Montana Budget & Policy Center’s interactive map of Distances to County Election Offices for Tribal Nations is a resource that looks at the seven different reservations within Montana and the travel distances to each county election office available to each of the tribal communities.
In the 2019-2020 interim, the State-Tribal Relations Committee studied barriers to voting for American Indians. It was found that distances between tribal communities and county election offices vary from 18 to 176 miles round trip, averaging 85 miles.
The 2012 Wandering Medicine vs. McCulloch lawsuit established “satellite or alternative election offices” to Crow Agency, Busby, Ft. Belknap, Hays Lodgepole, and Lame Dear in 2015 with other counties soon following suit offering offices in Box Elder, Browning, Heart Butte, Elmo, Poplar, and Frazer.
However, challenges remain despite the increased effort for “satellite or alternative election offices” on the reservation. This is a mainly a result of limited funding resources available to provide more information about the office location services, longer operating hours, and increased staffing.
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