(FOX40.COM) — The National Voter Registration Act was implemented in 1993, opening up opportunities for Americans to register to vote at certain government offices and agencies, but until now, no such voter registration agency under the Act had been established on Tribal lands.
That changed at a special session of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians Tribal Council on Tuesday that ended with the designation of a local health center as a voter registration agency under the NVRA.
The Shingle Springs Health & Wellness Center, located just off Highway 50 and Red Hawk Parkway, is the history-making voter registration center.
In a news release statement, Tribal Chairwoman Regina Cuellar said, “…Currently, more than one-third of voting-age Native Americans are not registered to vote. As a health care center aimed at providing services to every citizen of this Tribe and the surrounding community, Tribal and non-Tribal, our motto of ‘Healthcare for all’ stands true to the spirit of the administration’s executive order, ‘Voting for all.’”
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who oversees elections across the state, was at the session, and said in a statement, “…We have as our goal 100 percent registration of eligible voters in California, that includes the full enfranchisement of Indigenous peoples throughout the state.”
An attorney with the Native American Rights Fund said in a statement that the registration rate of Native Americans is among the lowest in the country, partly due to barriers such as homes that do not have a proper address or that do not receive regular mail.
In recent years, California has expanded voter registration and voting efforts, including through the use of a statewide vote-by-mail campaign that sends a ballot to every registered voter.
Weber added in a statement, “We also hope that other tribes in California take advantage of this opportunity to provide voter registration access to their residents.”