Washington capitol

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers in Olympia last week passed legislation expanding access to democracy with the Native American Voting Rights Act.

The House approved the measure 95 to 3.

Senate Bill 5079, sponsored by Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, would permit specific privileges for Native American voters living on tribal lands. Currently, not all reservations have standard addresses, making voter registration difficult.

Additionally, ballot drop boxes are often up to 100 miles away, said bill advocates.

The bill would permit Native Americans living on reservations to register online with a tribal identification card, use designated tribal building addresses for registration, and request voter registration support and ballot drop boxes.

Tribal members and leaders from across Washington attended the final House floor vote in solidarity.

“There are five veterans in my immediate family, and like many native families, they have served to protect our right to vote,” said Colville tribal member Yvette Joseph. “The Native Voting Rights Act will ensure this precious right is protected on reservations in Washington state.”

The bill will head back to the Senate to vote on amendments made in the House before going to the governor’s desk for signature.

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