facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

TUCSON, Ariz. — In a victory for tribal voting rights, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe reached a settlement agreement with the Pima County Recorder’s Office that allows for an early voting poll on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation.

The settlement agreement in Pascua Yaqui Tribe v. Rodriguez was announced on Tuesday by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and Pima County Recorder’s Office.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

The tribe filed the federal lawsuit in 2020 after repeated attempts to restore an early voting site on the reservation after it was abruptly relocated one month before the August 2018 primary election by former Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. An early voting site had been located on the reservation from 2010 until 2018.

The relocation of the early voting site meant tribal reservation citizens had to travel eight miles away to cast ballots. According to tribal officials, transportation is problematic for many of its nearly 4,000 tribal citizens who live on the reservation.

The parties signed an agreement Friday that will establish an early voting site on the Pascua Yaqui reservation before the 2022 midterm elections for every statewide primary and general election. The agreement sets a deadline of February 2022 for the Tribe and Pima County Recorder to identify an acceptable early voting location. It also establishes that the County will fully staff a drop box location during the early voting period.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is just as important in Arizona Indian Country and the Pascua Yaqui Reservation as it is in the rest of Pima County. We thank the Pima County Recorder for agreeing to settle this matter, with the aim to work cooperatively with the Tribe and ensure that Tribal members have an equal opportunity to vote,” Peter S. Yacupicio, chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, said.

Arizona has long history of voting discrimination against Native voters, according to voting rights advocates. The Arizona Constitution barred Native Americans from voting in state elections until 1948, and literacy tests and other barriers existed for decades afterwards.

Support our mission to create journalism that inspires, uplifts, and informs Native Americans.

In reaching the agreement, current Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly has taken a drastic step to correct what she sees was a mistake by her predecessor.

“The closure of the Pascua Yaqui early voting site is a clear, modern-day example of how Native American voting rights continue to remain under threat,” Cázares-Kelly said. “It reminds us that we do not all start from the same starting line and some communities have to work harder to exercise our most basic and fundamental right. It is an honor to reinstate the early voting site to provide equitable access for the Tribal community. We look forward to many years of working with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.” 

The tribe is represented by CLC, Osborn Maledon, and the Indian Legal Clinic at Arizona State University.

Before filing suit, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe won support for an early voting site from the Mayor of Tucson, the Pima County Board of Supervisors, and the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, as well as voting rights advocates.

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (May 19, 2024): D.C. Briefs
Native Artist and Former Cultural Advisor to the Chicago Blackhawks Sues Team for Sexual Harassment, Fraud
First Lady Jill Biden 'Shows Up' in Indian Country
National Indian Gaming Commission Announces Sharon Avery as Acting Chair
The Jicarilla Apache Nation Mourns the Passing of President Edward Velarde

These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].