Gov. Jay Inlsee signs into law the Native American Voting Rights Act, which allows a non-traditional address to be used for voter registration for residents who live on reservations. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Gov. Jay Inlsee signs into law the Native American Voting Rights Act, which allows a non-traditional address to be used for voter registration for residents who live on reservations. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Native American Voting Rights Act signed into law

Non-traditional addresses can be used for voter registration on tribal lands

By Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

The Native American Voting Rights act was signed into law March 14 by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at a widely attended ceremony.

The bill would allow the residential address portion of a voter registration form to be filled out with a nontraditional address.

The bill modifies the minimum information required for voter registration under state law, to allow for “unmarked homes” and “a nontraditional residential address may be used when a voter resides on an Indian reservation or on Indian lands.” The bill also allows for voters to list a building designated by the tribe in their precinct as their residential address, if need be.

“We believe these three steps will allow tribal members to help us form a more perfect union and make good decisions about our destiny,” said Inslee of the changes the bill makes.

The state House of Representatives passed an amended version of the bill with a 95-3 vote on March 5. House members voting against were Reps. Bob McCaslin, R- Spokane Valley, Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Matt Shea. R-Spokane Valley.

The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 6 with 34 in favor, 13 opposed, and two excused. All 13 senators in opposition were Republicans; however, Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R- Ritzville, and other Republicans voted in support.

“This legislation provides us the opportunity to remove those barriers to be able to call to the Native Americans and tell them they matter,” said Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow. Lekanoff is the first Native American woman elected to the House and had previously worked for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

“The excitement of an aunty going down to pick up her ballot with her little granddaughter and going to the kitchen table and filling it out and walking just another half a block and dropping it in a dropbox, on the reservation, in the middle of our America is wonderful for me,” said Lekanoff.

The passed amendment, proposed by Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, requires that a tribe’s ballot box must be accessible to the county auditor via a public road.

“We welcome everyone to participate in our electoral process,” Walsh said.

The House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee amended the bill to let tribes choose a building, which is not a ballot pickup location, to be used for mailing address purposes only. The amendment made other minor changes.

The underlying bill modifies the minimum information required for voter registration under state law to allow for “unmarked homes” and “a nontraditional residential address may be used when a voter resides on an Indian reservation or on Indian lands.”

With Inslee’s signature of the bill, the Native American Voting Rights Acts was the second bill signed into law in the 2019 session.

[flipp]

More in Northwest

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo
Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2020 State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Office of the Governor)
Gov. Inslee delivers State of the State Address

By Leona Vaughn, WNPA News Service OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee stood… Continue reading

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, was sworn in Jan. 13, 2020, as Speaker of the House. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Jinkins sworn in as WA’s first female Speaker of the House

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, is applauded by her colleagues as she becomes… Continue reading

A 50-minute film called “Spawning Grounds,” which documents the effort to save a freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish, is finally ready for its debut in North Bend on Jan. 18. (Screenshot from film)
Spawning Grounds: Lake Sammamish kokanee documentary premieres Jan. 18

The film tracks the ‘all hands on deck’ effort to save the little red fish from extinction.

Meet the group trying to electrify America’s railroads

The Backbone Campaign hopes it will reduce emissions and jump-start depressed communities.

A man works on a balcony at the Cedar Pointe Apartments, a 255 apartment complex for seniors 55+, on Jan. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Washington. (Andy Bronson/The Herald)
Washington state has been under-producing housing units for decades

A new report said there should have been an additional 225,000 units created between 2010 and 2015.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Homelessness, guns among 2020 legislative priorities

WA lawmakers examine issues heading into 60-day session.

Most Read