An election official lays out more “I voted” stickers on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Stickers for the 2020 general election featured designs by Alaskan artist Barbara Lavallee. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

An election official lays out more “I voted” stickers on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Stickers for the 2020 general election featured designs by Alaskan artist Barbara Lavallee. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Diminishing access to voting is wrong

Your intentions are clear, and ours will be felt by you at the polls.

When the Permanent Fund Dividend Automatic Voter Registration was achieved in 2016 by overwhelming support for Ballot Measure 1, Alaska Natives rejoiced. This “one-stop-shop” automatic registration, coupled with the ability to cast our vote by mail, lifted bureaucratic barriers that rural Alaskans are often faced with — particularly Alaska Natives. As an American Indian woman, whose children are Alaska Native, I have seen that the lives of our Native people have been defined by disenfranchisement by our own state and federal governments. I am well aware that the system was never set up for us to succeed, and Native Americans continue to face unreasonable and frankly racist policies to cull our ability to participate in democracy. Lawmakers in Alaska know that the Native vote counts; they know that building and maintaining obstacles under the guise of “voter fraud” can silence us. In 2010, Lisa Murkowski credited her historic write-in campaign success to the power of the Alaska Native vote — claiming victory with over 10,000 votes in the general election. This is only one example of what can be accomplished when we are allowed an unobstructed ability to cast our ballot. Shame on you, Sen. Mike Shower and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer for attempting to diminish our ability and access to voting. Your intentions are clear, and ours will be felt by you at the polls.

Margaret Tarrant,

Canvass Coordinator for Alaska Community Action on Toxics

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