The ACLU highlights just one story from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, one story that demonstrates the plight of hundreds of voters in the state.
South Dakota is trying to prevent Eileen Janis — and hundreds of other citizens — from voting.
Eileen grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and does suicide prevention work. She registered to vote for the first time in 1984. “I always vote because my mom told me to,” she says.
But when she went to cast her ballot in the historic 2008 election, she found that she had been illegally removed from the voter rolls. Though she had been convicted of a felony, her sentence to probation meant that she had not lost the right to cast a ballot. “I went [to vote] with my son who had just turned 18. As soon as I tried to vote I was told no because I was a felon.”
South Dakota has a long and shameful history of disenfranchising Native Americans, so Ms. Janis’s story is far from unique. The ACLU sued on behalf of Janis and other disenfranchised South Dakotans and won. Which, of course, isn’t the end of the story. Here at Daily Kos, robbinsdale radical alerted us to the South Dakota legislature’s efforts to deny the franchise to those with criminal convictions, even those who were never sentenced to jail time. Native Americans are disproportionately represented in the South Dakota criminal system, and this effort would hit them particularly hard.
The ACLU tells how to take action:
Tell the DOJ to protect the right to vote in South Dakota and across the nation. And urge Congress to pass the Democracy Restoration Act, which would let Eileen—and all Americans with past convictions who are living in their communities—vote in federal elections.
For more of the week’s news, make the jump below the fold.