- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A voting rights lawsuit filed last year by four Oglala Sioux tribal members against Jackson County will be allowed to proceed following a ruling by a federal judge.

County officials had asked U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier to dismiss the lawsuit, but she has denied the motion, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1GRdwbw ) reported. Schreier determined the tribal members have provided enough information to support their allegations.

The plaintiffs, which include Thomas Poor Bear, vice president of the Ogala Sioux Tribe, argue the county’s practice of offering in-person voter registration and in-person absentee voting only at the county courthouse in Kadoka discriminates against Native Americans living in the portion of the county that’s within the Pine Ridge Reservation.

After the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit, county officials agreed to open a satellite office for voter registration and early voting in Wanblee, but that didn’t absolve the county of its obligation to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, according to Schreier.

She ruled that information provided by the plaintiffs, all of whom live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Jackson County, proved economically disadvantaged Native Americans were discriminated against based on the county’s refusal to provide a satellite office in Wanblee.

Jackson County commissioners have claimed the county didn’t have enough money to open a satellite office, and every voter in the county is treated equally because they all have the option of requesting an early ballot by mail.

Schreier told Jackson County officials that they have until next Monday to respond to the voters’ allegations that the county discriminated against them.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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