On October 7, the ACLU of Montana called on Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to take action in making voting accessible for all Montanans.
In a letter from Jim Taylor, Legal Director of the ACLU of Montana, we voiced our support of the request for satellite voting offices on the seven Indian reservations located in Montana, recently made by the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders council.
"...it is imperative that steps be taken to ensure equal access to the ballot for Montana's Indian citizens. As was pointed out in the letter from RMTLC, Judge Molloy has made it undeniably clear in the Wandering Medicine litigation that you do have the authority to issue directives to county officials mandating satellite voting offices. The request now being made to you by RMTLC comes directly from the tribal leaders and the Tribes they represent. lf there are any limitations imposed on the plaintiffs who participated in Wandering Medicine by virtue of the settlement agreements in that case, why such limitations do not apply to RMTLC or its constituent members since they were not party to the Wandering Medicine litigation and are not bound by any agreements made in that case. The Wandering Medicine litigation did not create a ceiling on the right to vote for Montana's Indian citizens. At best, it created a floor. Montana's tribal leaders, and the Tribes they represent, are now calling on you to ensure that the right to vote is provided equally to all Montana citizens.
It's time for all Montanans to have access to the ballot.
UPDATE: Secretary of State Linda McCulloch issued a directive on October 19, 2015 regarding satellite voting offices. Secretary of State Directive on Satellite Voting Offices
The Secretary of State directs each county with an American Indian reservation that includes voting-eligible residents to open satellite election offices on those reservations, if certain conditions are present as discussed below. Said offices must provide in-person absentee voting and late registration services equivalent to the services at the main election office of the county.
In response, we asked for clarification on several points including the timing and implementation of the feasability analysis and how disputes will be resolved between county officials and tribal representatives if there are conflicting ideas.