On Tuesday, Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), said that Indian Health Service facilities should be designated voter registration sites in the same way state-based public assistance agencies are under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
Keel noted that the facilities are ideal for voter registration because they’re in many tribal communities and that “Not all Native Americans are registered.” Earlier this week he told a gathering of tribal leaders that only two of every five eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives were registered in 2008, and that an estimated 1 million eligible Native voters are not registered. “This should be considered a civic emergency.”
In some states, many public assistance agencies are not fully compliant with NVRA requirements, but when brought into compliance they have proved particularly effective:
- In 2010, Colorado agencies registered nearly 44,000 voters.
- Missouri public assistance agencies are averaging 115,000 registrations per year.
- In the first 6 months of 2010, more than 100,000 Ohio residents registered through public assistance offices.
Most importantly, all of these registrations are conducted in the course of providing other routine services. This model is so effective because it utilizes an organization’s location and standing in the community. This applies equally to your nonprofit: Although the NVRA may not require you to offer voter registration, you can still ensure your clients and community register and vote in 2012! Learn more about nonprofit voter registration.