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.

More in Northwest

Political activist Tim Eyman campaigns for Initiative 976 on Nov. 5 in downtown Bellevue. The initiative promised $30 car tabs while functionally eliminating the ability of agencies like Sound Transit to raise taxes for its projects. Photo by Aaron Kunkler
Election analysis: Eastside cities largely voted against I-976

Most Eastside cities weren’t swayed by I-976, though more voters approved it than the county average.

Vehicles passing through flooded street. File photo
King County Flood Control District to vote on 2020 budget

The budget will fund a variety of programs across the county.

Sound Publishing file photo
King County Council authorizes staff to draft road levy ballot measure

The county is projected to run out of capital funding for roads and bridges by 2025.

Flying Fish: Lake Sammamish kokanee move to Orcas Island

It’s part of a program to preserve the unique freshwater salmon species.

Malena Gaces, left, and other members of Washington CAN protest unfair move-out charges and alleged discriminatory behavior outside Kitts Corner Apartments in Federal Way in 2018. Sound Publishing file photo
King County could increase tenant protections

The council is considering ordinances designed to help renters.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The smoky summer that wasn’t

While Washington had a mild season, wildfires burned near the Arctic.

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

Several roads in King County, including the Snoqualmie Parkway, were closed when a brief snow storm struck the region last February. File photo
More roads in King County could be plowed during winter storms

Proposal targets 70 more miles in unincorporated areas.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier held a roundtable at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Oct. 3 to talk about the Trump administration’s plan to further change SNAP food benefits rules and reduce the number of people using them. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Murray, Schrier vow to fight White House restrictions on food stamps

Senator and Representative met Oct. 3 at Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth. File photo
King County isn’t on track to meet emissions goals

The goals were ambitious but progress has been slow.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo
King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

Bellevue is the most expensive place in the region to rent an apartment, according to a new analysis. Courtesy photo
Several Eastside cities are among most expensive to rent in Northwest

Bellevue topped the list for highest apartment rents during the first half of 2019.