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.

More in News & Comment

Sarah Abdullah is a pharmacist who left Iraq as a refugee. She joined the Welcome Back Center at Highline College and is now only two tests away from gaining Washington state certification to practice her trade. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Recredentialed: Barriers face Washington’s immigrant, refugee professionals

Even with degrees from abroad, it can be difficult for many to get certified in the state.

South King Fire helps local animal rescue with puppy transport

Seattle-based nonprofit Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary helps rescue and re-home animals from high risk situations and fosters loving relationships along the way.

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

Former Todd Beamer High School nurse charged with child rape, sexual misconduct of 3 students

51-year-old Mark David Glenn, of Auburn, posted bail and was released from jail.

Honks, waves, flags and flowers for Everett’s tattooed patriot

Fans have been honoring Samiu Bloomfield, who died Sunday, at his favorite corner on Broadway.

Twin sisters do makeover magic to local homes in HGTV series

New “Unsellable Houses” focuses on transforming modest Snohomish County homes into hot properties.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Most Read