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WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior said today it is working with states to formally designate Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in New Mexico as voter registration agencies under the National Voter Registration Act. 

The designation of the two higher education institutions will facilitate voter registration opportunities for enrolled students and members of the communities, according to a statement from the DOI.  

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The announcement follows the release of the White House’s Native American Voting Rights Report, which chronicles the barriers Native voters face and recommends actions for policymakers at every level to help break these barriers down. 

“Tribal nations have played a significant role in influencing the contours of American democracy, yet systemic barriers continue to disenfranchise Indigenous people and impede a free and fair electoral process,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “The Interior Department is committed to defending the right to vote, which includes increasing access to voter registration and engaging young people in our democratic system.”

To help make the report accessible to a wide audience across Indian Country, the Assistant Secretary’s office is spearheading an effort to translate the report into six Native languages: Navajo, Yup’ik, Ojibwe, Cherokee, Lakota and Native Hawaiian.

“Today’s announcement helps further the Administration's goals of increasing voter outreach, education, registration and turnout in Indigenous communities. Haskell and SIPI serve as important touchpoints in their respective communities,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said in a statement. “Designating these schools as voter registration agencies is an important move that will allow more Native people the opportunity to register to vote.”

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