American Indian Voting

The ACLU works in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

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What's at Stake

American Indians have been the victims of systematic discrimination in the past, which has included the taking of American Indian land, the denigration of American Indian languages and cultures, the isolation of American Indians on reservations, the denial of rights of citizenship, and efforts to remove or exterminate various tribes. The effects of this discrimination continue. One consequence is a depressed socioeconomic status that limits the ability of tribal members to participate effectively in local, state, and national elections. Despite these obstacles, and in large part as a result of enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and increased American Indian office holding, American Indian political participation has advanced significantly in recent years. To ensure that these gains continue, the ACLU calls upon local and state jurisdictions to do the following:

  • Remove barriers to equal political participation, including at-large voting.
  • Encourage and facilitate registration and voting by American Indians.
  • Conduct redistricting in a way that allows meaningful participation by the American Indian community and avoids the dilution of its voting strength.
  • Provide language assistance in voting.
  • Comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

American Indians have been the victims of systematic discrimination in the past, which has included the taking of American Indian land, the denigration of American Indian languages and cultures, the isolation of American Indians on reservations, the denial of rights of citizenship, and efforts to remove or exterminate various tribes. The effects of this discrimination continue. One consequence is a depressed socioeconomic status that limits the ability of tribal members to participate effectively in local, state, and national elections. Despite these obstacles, and in large part as a result of enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and increased American Indian office holding, American Indian political participation has advanced significantly in recent years. To ensure that these gains continue, the ACLU calls upon local and state jurisdictions to do the following:

  • Remove barriers to equal political participation, including at-large voting.
  • Encourage and facilitate registration and voting by American Indians.
  • Conduct redistricting in a way that allows meaningful participation by the American Indian community and avoids the dilution of its voting strength.
  • Provide language assistance in voting.
  • Comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
a hand holding an American flag and a rainbow flag in front of the supreme court building
a crowd of people with fists in the air
Credit: Michelle Frankfurter, Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photos
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