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The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, opened its first voter registration office on campus last week. 

The announcement follows the New Mexico Secretary of State’s decision to designate the college as a voter registration agency under the National Voter Registration Act to make voter registration easily accessible for all. SIPI is a federally funded tribal college.  The college's latest enrollment data from Spring 2023 shows the student body is comprised primarily of students from the Navajo Nation, followed by Pueblo of San Filipe, Kewa Pueblo, Pueblo of Jamez, Pueblo of Laguna and White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation.

Laws that make voting more difficult often have a disproportionate impact on Native American voters. Many communities find voting difficult and inaccessible due to inadequate investment in voting resources and infrastructure on reservations. Some laws even take direct aim at services Native American voters rely heavily on to overcome these barriers. 

Native American voters have the potential to become political forces. According to the Native American Rights Fund, only 66 percent of the known eligible Native American voting population is registered to vote. 

“Voting is essential for a healthy democracy and the protection of liberty. SIPI’s new office will increase voter access to basic information and provide education on the registration process,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland in a press release. 

“The new office is an important move that will allow more people to participate in a process that should be easily accessible to everyone.”

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