Voter Mobilization Efforts Target Native Americans

Nov 8, 2012

From left to right, Micah Lott, Jenea Mandan, Steven Carpenter and Rauni Spute canvass door-to-door among houses in Riverton, Wyoming. The four are members of RezAction, a Wind River Indian Reservation advocacy organization that has worked urgently to increase turnout in this year’s election.
Credit Ron Feemster / WyoFile

A get-out-the-vote effort on the Wind River Indian Reservation helped get people to the polls, but Fremont County, where the reservation is located, still showed slightly lower numbers of ballots cast this year than in 2008 and 2004.

Voter turnout on reservations has generally been low and often community members take more interest in tribal elections than in state and national races, but Wyofile journalist Ron Feemster, who was on Wind River for Election Day, says that didn’t seem to be an issue.

“When we spoke to them about why they were at the polls, many people talked about Obama and Romney first, and then talked about the local races after that. But other people who were observing it did say that the get out the vote effort was extremely effective.”

President Obama addressed Indian Country during both of his campaigns, and during his first term he passed bills benefiting Indian Country law enforcement and medical care for Native Americans. He also directed money to Indian Country for job creation, infrastructure and other projects.