The Native American Voting Rights Coalition
n January 2015, NARF proposed an ambitious new project: gathering voting rights advocates, lawyers, civil rights experts, and tribal advocates into one room to discuss current problems with voting in Indian Country and begin to develop solutions to these problems. Previously, individuals and organizations working to protect Native voting rights did so independently, with no coordinated strategy in place. Often, the work was reactive—in response to an immediate threat—rather than proactive or planned in advance of an election. That is what NARF’s project was meant to change. Thus, the Native American Voting Rights Coalition (NAVRC) was formed.
The NAVRC includes, among others: Native American Rights Fund (NARF); National Congress of American Indians (NCAI); American Civil Liberties Union, Voting Rights Project (ACLU); Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR); Fair Elections Center; Western Native Voice; and Four Directions. NAVRC is organized into three working groups: legislation and policy issues (led by NCAI); litigation (led by NARF); and capacity building and education issues (led by LCCR).
The project’s main goal is to remove barriers to Native American voter registration and voting, increase Native civic engagement, and foster a more informed and active Native electorate. With mounting evidence of voter suppression and violations of voting rights laws, NAVRC has accelerated its work. This work includes: (1) planning for redistricting related to the 2020 census; (2) addressing violations observed in the 2016 elections; and (3) overseeing the largest survey of Native voters ever conducted to discover the state of voting in Indian Country.