Donna Bergstrom, Red Lake, speaks to voters. She is the Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. (Photo via Facebook)
Election Day is a funny phrase. A generation ago it signified that one day when citizens showed up at the polls and cast ballots. Then after the polls closed, the votes were counted.
And today? Election Day is more like Election Month.
This is Trahant Reports.
In a few places people are already voting in the November election.
Early voting started in Minnesota last week, on Sept. 21st.
There are nine Native Americans running for a variety of offices in Minnesota, including the office of lieutenant governor where the next incumbent will likely be Peggy Flanagan, a Democrat and a citizen of the White Earth Nation, or Donna Bergstrom, a Republican, and a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe.
There is Ray “Skip” Sandman, also Ojibwe, and a candidate for the U.S. House on the Minnesota Independence Party.
There are also eight candidates for the state legislature running as Democrats and Republicans.
Another state where voting has already started is South Dakota. This is another state where Native voting could really make a difference, especially early. Why? Because early voting is a sure thing. A vote on election day itself could work, but the voter might get tied up at work. Or have to deal with a family issue. Or. Or. Or. The point is an early vote is done. Certain. So imagine what the numbers would look like if the Native American precincts in South Dakota reached 100 percent participation.
South Dakota has ten Native candidates running for office, including for two statewide offices. Wayne Frederick, Rosebud, is seeking the post of Public Utilities Commission and Alexandra Frederick, Lakota, is running for Secretary of State. Yes, they are a married couple. Campaigning together. Alexandra Frederick says they have already driven 10,000 miles to reach voters in small towns. She told the Huron Plainsman that “we can change things, we can make it better, we can make this a South Dakota that represents everybody …”
If elected, Frederick would be in charge of elections. And she said she is working hard to encourage more people to vote. Voting practices that she said are not always fair. Members of her family, living in the same house, were told once when they went to vote that some of them had to vote at a different precinct that was many miles away.
There are nine Native American candidates for the South Dakota legislature.
Across the country some 100 million people do not vote. One study estimates that at least 30 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives are not registered to vote.
Today is a good week to change that. This week, and September 25, are National Voter Registration Day and Week. If you want more information, on how to vote and how to register go to NativeVote.org
A lot of voter registration deadlines are next week — so do it soon.
I am Mark Trahant.