On Thursday, September 14, 2023, U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton in Phoenix ruled in favor of the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Gila River Indian Community and Native youth against a voter suppression law requiring proof of a physical address.
Considering more than 40,000 homes on Indian reservations across Arizona do not have physical addresses, the decision is viewed as a victory for Native Americans in the state.
The order holds that the proof of address requirements in Arizona HB 2492 are preempted by the National Voter Registration Act.
Under Judge Bolton’s ruling, the bill’s address requirements must be liberally interpreted so that no one is required to have a standard street address in order to vote and so that numerous documents can be used to satisfy the requirement, including an Arizona-issued ID listing only a P.O. Box or any tribal identification document, regardless of whether it has an address.
“We applaud the Court’s ruling, which ensures citizens living in their tribal communities will not be disenfranchised because they don’t have an address. Native people in Arizona will continue to fight for their right to participate in democracy,” said Native American Rights Fund Staff Attorney Allison Neswood.
“The Gila River Indian Community is pleased with this decision, which will ensure our Community members can exercise their right to vote using tribal identification and our Reservation addresses,” Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Lewis said. “We continue to fight for our voice to be heard through our vote and will resist any attempts to suppress our votes because, as we have shown in the last several elections, our Community’s vote counts and the Native vote matters.”
Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Verlon Jose said, “This is a great day for the Tohono O’odham Nation and all Arizona tribes. This decision reaffirms that tribal citizens have the same constitutional voting rights as every other American. The Nation will always fight to uphold our people’s right to vote, which is the foundation of our democracy. We want to thank the Native American Rights Fund for working with us to bring about this momentous ruling.”
Tohono O’odham Nation, Gila River Indian Community, and individual Native voters are represented by the Native American Rights Fund, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Osborn Maledon, P.A., in litigation that has been consolidated with related cases under the case name, Mi Familia Vota v. Arizona.
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