Big Sky Connection - As part of nationwide Voter Registration Day, Western Native Voice is holding an all-day drive-through registration event in Billings. Advocates encourage American Indians to register and stay involved in the democratic process. Comments from Adam Beaves-Fisher (BEEVES, rhymes with "leaves"), deputy director, government and political relations, Western Native Voice.
Click on the image for the audio. Native American voters living on rural reservations often use ballot-collection services because of limited access to home mail services and polling places. Montana, home to 12 tribal nations, enacted a law that makes it illegal to pay organizers who collect completed absentee ballots from voters, according to the Brennan Center. (Adobe Stock)
September 19, 2023 - Today is National Voter Registration Day, and in Montana, Indigenous advocates are working to register people and get out the vote.
As part of its civic engagement initiative, Western Native Voice is encouraging Indigenous Americans to register to vote and cast a ballot in the next election ... and they are doing it via a drive-through voter registration effort in Billings.
Adam Beaves-Fisher, deputy director of government and political relations for Western Native Voice, is strongly encouraging Indigenous people to register, get involved in the democratic process and continue to be engaged, contrary to what has happened in the past.
"Native Americans have been disenfranchised from the process historically, as well as voting in lower rates," Beaves-Fisher explained. "We're really making sure that we're creating that tradition across our communities: not only voting but being engaged in the civic process."
The event takes place in the Western Native Voice office parking lots on 25th Street West in Billings. It starts at 11 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m.
Beaves-Fisher pointed out that staying involved in the process is important for every American voter, but especially so for Indigenous people who face unique barriers when it comes to casting a ballot. He added it has become increasingly important for Native Americans to have a louder voice in the democratic process because of the barriers they have faced in the past.
"Some of the real barriers are just life in rural Montana," Beaves-Fisher observed. "When you have consolidated polling locations, uneven registration hours or voting hours, changing laws about the process creates a lot of confusion for every voter."
Today's drive-through event will feature a variety of voter-related activities, including updating voter registration information, signing up for mail-in voting, and first-time voter registration.