Fri July 6, 2012
Wisconsin tribes make push for higher voter turnout
Wisconsin tribal governments want to make more of their members heard in the November election. They say this month’s recall showed their “get out the vote” effort is working.
Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson says Wisconsin’s 11 tribes can make a difference, so they’re making extra efforts this year to get the vote out, “They’ve got to start to realize that we are a force to reckon with. I guess it’s just a matter of how we pursue and get our people out to vote.”
This isn’t a partisan effort for one political party. Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Attorney James Schlender Jr. says the recall election was a chance to register more voters and educate local polling officials about accepting tribal IDs. Although a precinct turned away one person using a tribal ID, he says that was ironed out. He says the recall paves the way for a better turn-out in August and November elections. “We’re encouraged that tribal members had the opportunity to get out. We’re encouraged that the voting precincts were cooperative and flexible considering the amount of scrutiny they were under. Any bump in the road was going to be contested by either party. And there were no bumps in the road.”
Schlender says it makes sense that tribal vote turn-out grows. “A lot of those tribal members who are going to vote have family members who are serving in the armed forces so for them to be able to exercise this right really affirms the sacrifices these families have gone through to maintain our way of life. This voting exercise is a direct expression of that.”
Although the state Government Accountability Board does not track tribal voter turn-out, Schlender says the number of people voting at LCO’s five precincts was up significantly.