The Blackfeet Nation announced Wednesday that it settled with Pondera County officials after the county allegedly refused to open a satellite voting office on the reservation.
Jacqueline De Leon is a staff attorney for the Colorado-based Native American Rights Fund, which helped the Blackfeet Nation file a case in federal court last week after the tribe requested that Pondera County open a satellite voting office on the reservation. The tribe argued failure to do so would violate federal and state law.
De Leon says the county has now agreed to open a satellite office in Heart Butte on Oct. 19, settling the case.
"We were worried and have been worried that the move to vote by mail was going to disenfranchise Native Americans. Because we know it’s difficult to vote by mail in Indian Country. We know that lots of people don’t get residential mail delivery," De Leon says.
Pondera County election officials declined to comment on the case.
De Leon says the Native American Rights Fund also helped the Fort Peck and Northern Cheyenne tribes negotiate with Roosevelt, Big Horn and Rosebud counties. She says that all three counties were offering in-person voter services off reservation. According to De Leon, all three counties have now agreed to open satellite offices on the reservations.