Discusses challenges and solutions to increasing participation among Indian voters in non-Tribal elections
For Immediate Release
October 17, 2017
Contact: Scott Forrester, 505.934.5681
Milwaukee, WI - This week, Deb Haaland, Democratic Candidate for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, is participating in the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Convention & Marketplace to connect with Native communities nationwide and build support for her campaign.
Yesterday, Haaland participated in the Great Lakes Voting Rights Hearing to share her experience and expertise with voting in non-Tribal elections in Indian Country. Haaland got her start in politics by going into campaign offices and asking for lists of Native American voters to call. She then went on to serve as the Native American Vote Program Manager for Diane Denish's 2010 gubernatorial campaign, as NM State Native American Vote Director for Obama's re-election campaign, and as Chairwoman of the Native American Democratic Caucus. As State Democratic Party Chair, Deb used her influence to turn out the vote in Indian Country and throughout New Mexico, helping Democrats win decisive victories in 2016.
Deb Haaland released the following statement:
"One issue is clear in New Mexico, and that is Indian voters suffer inequities in voting. Thankfully, New Mexico has implemented laws that work to remedy past neglect and disenfranchisement of Indians; however, it is incumbent on every administration to properly fund and support such laws. The base of support for Indian communities to increase participation in elections must come, first, from the governments that manage elections, and we are fortunate in New Mexico to have Maggie Toulouse Oliver as Secretary of State who is committed to support laws and other remedies to improve Native voter turnout. Additionally, organizations and campaigns should care and spend resources and time in Indian country.
Bottom line: we must break through any and all structural barriers to civic participation in Indian Country--this includes strengthening, extending, and vigorously enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Since I started working to get-out-the-vote in Indian country ten years ago, I have promoted several ways to improve access and participation, such as monitoring/stopping early closure of early voting sites, better outreach and education by the county clerks, and straight party ticket voting. Representation requires participation -- which is why in Congress, and for the rest of my life, I will advocate for full participation in elections by Indian voters."
Deb Haaland is running for New Mexico's First Congressional District seat, and would be the first Native American woman elected to U.S. Congress. As the first Native American woman to chair a state party, Deb led New Mexico Democrats in 2016 to flip its State House from red to blue, expand the Democratic majority in the Senate, elect a Democrat Secretary of State, and hand a decisive victory to Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
Deb is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and was the first woman elected to Chair the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors. She is a UNM Law School graduate and single mom to Somah, who recently graduated from UNM with a BA in Theater.