HELENA, MONTANA – Montana Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch on Thursday announced the establishment of a satellite election office on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation for the 2014 General Election, which will ease the burden on members of the Blackfeet Nation who must drive long distances to exercise their full voting rights.
Secretary McCulloch also announced that her office will fund the purchase of equipment for any county that chooses to provide a satellite voting office on a reservation in Montana.
“What Glacier County is doing is terrific, because it provides a service that American Indians would otherwise have to drive a very long distance to get,” McCulloch said. “I have always supported the establishment of satellite offices on reservations, and will continue to work with the counties and Tribes to make them successful.”
Under the terms of the collaboration with Glacier County, the Secretary of State’s office will fund the purchase of “ballot-on-demand” machines to be used at the election office on the Blackfeet Reservation. Glacier County will staff the office two days a week in the 30 days prior to the election, when late voter registration and in-person absentee voting occur.
“State law requires late voter registration to be done in person at the county election office, or at the location designated by the county Election Administrator,” McCulloch said. “Satellite offices bring those services directly to the reservation, which will provide a more convenient voting option in some areas.”
Secretary McCulloch praised Glacier County Election Administrator Glenda Hall and Glacier County Commissioner Mike DesRosier, both also Blackfeet Tribal members, for their work in increasing access to the elections process by opening an office on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“I have always been aware of the difficulty that our Native voters faced with accessibility to voting, and knew we could find a solution,” Hall said. “This has been five years in the making, and I am confident we are now able to maintain the integrity and security of the elections process while offering services at the satellite office.”
“A lot of people have put forth an extraordinary effort to get equal voting access into our community on the Reservation,” added DesRosier. “Glenda has overcome many hurdles to get us to where we are at today, and I am very pleased to see it finally happening.”
Secretary McCulloch said the establishment of a satellite election office on a reservation is the county’s decision, and she “applauds each of Montana’s county election administrators for the work they do to keep our elections secure, accurate and accessible to all voters.”
“The right to vote is monumentally important,” McCulloch concluded. “I remain committed to ensuring there are no undue barriers to the elections process.”