Indigenous Vote

Indigenous Vote

Billings, MT

Indigenous Vote, previously known as Montana Native Vote, was established in 2011 to build political power for Native Americans. Our purpose is to provide the tools needed to advocate for policies that benefit our communities. Once elected, Indigenous Vote holds elected officials accountable to the people they serve. Indigenous Vote provides resources and training for members to engage in the legislative process at the state and federal level.

Grant Amount

$50,000.00

Key Issues
  • Indigenous Justice
  • Voting Access

Indigenous Vote (formerly Montana Native Vote), in partnership with several tribal governments and the ACLU, won a huge Indigenous voting rights victory when a state district court ruled Montana’s Ballot Interference Prevention Act (BIPA) unconstitutional. The law outlawed ballot collection, a ban that would have made it nearly impossible for Native Americans living on reservations to cast a ballot and have it counted.

Due to the vast distance they have to travel to cast their ballots at a polling place and the lack of reliable mail service, many Native voters rely on organizations such as MNV to collect and deliver their ballots to election offices.

 

Montana Native Vote

Image courtesy of Indigenous Vote

Founded in 2011, Indigenous Vote is MT’s only statewide, Native-led organization developing and advocating for policies and programs to achieve political and economic power and cultural self-determination for Indigenous communities. Indigenous Vote carries out year-round organizing, community outreach, leadership development, electoral engagement, and candidate endorsement on Indigenous Vote’s seven tribal lands and in urban areas, where more than half of the Indigenous population lives.

Tribal nations make up seven percent of MT’s population, including nearly 60,000 people of voting age, a significant number in a state with 700,000 registered voters—and where recent statewide elections were won by small 3,000-20,000 vote margins. Pre-COVID-19, Indigenous Vote’s 2020 plans included adding at least 1,000 new members and building its infrastructure across the state; registering at least 2,000 new Native voters; training 10 people in voter engagement skills; and increasing Native turnout over 2016’s 65 percent, a historic high. However, with COVID-19 ravaging tribal nations, Indigenous Vote had to quickly transform its organizing to virtual, which presented a significant challenge because broadband access is limited or non-existent in rural areas, and only 35 percent of tribal lands have internet access.