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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

t
Federal Way woman accused of driving high in fatal crash

Victim was age 19 and died three days after the crash.

A free CPR training and career fair will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire
Fire authorities offer free CPR training, career fair Saturday, July 13

Event open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at accesso ShoWare Center in Kent

t
Man, 26, drowns at Gene Coulon Beach in Renton

Renton Police are still investigating.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. COURTESY PHOTO
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray questions whether Biden should stay in race

‘President Biden must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy’

t
Renton motorcyclist dies after colliding with elk, second vehicle on I-90

Woman, 46, struck by another vehicle on freeway July 6 after hitting elk

File photo
Federal Way Police shoot man during a domestic violence dispute

Non-life-threatening injuries to the man at apartment complex.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump participated in a debate June 27, 2024. (Screenshot from Google Images)
King County politicos share thoughts on presidential debate

“I can tell you who didn’t win the debate, and it was the American public.”

Fuse Washington created the tongue-in-cheek ‘Save Our Yachts’ website to poke fun at those pushing a ballot measure to repeal the capital gains tax that is paid by the state’s super wealthy. (Screenshot)
Attack websites seep into WA election battles

Such undertakings tend to change few minds and can incite a backlash, especially in communities where negative campaigning is not the norm.

COURTESY PHOTO
Trash and various debris at a Green River homeless encampment in unincorporated King County along 94th Place South between Kent and Auburn.
Landmark Supreme Court decision criminalizes homelessness

In King County, there are about 16,385 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Courtesy Photo, Renton Police
New technology lets Renton Police track suspects in real time

Renton police say Gladiator Forensics Services allows multiple divisions to more effectively do their jobs.

Traffic backs up on Interstate 5 northbound June 26 in Federal Way after a fatal stabbing in a vehicle. COURTESY PHOTO, Washington State Department of Transportation
Suspect arrested in I-5 fatal stabbing in Federal Way

19-year-old Patriot Ryan Lemay died from a stab wound to the neck in June 26 incident