COVID, courts and cold: Montana’s Indian Country faces challenges to get out the vote | News

Dulcie Bear Don’t Walk has been the Big Horn County election administrator since 2011, and participated in the Wandering Medicine court case. Her office attempts to reach every voter possible, even though the logistics of maintaining multiple offices can be stressing.

Indian Election 12

Big Horn County Elections Administrator Dulcie Bear Don’t Walk stands by the vote-counting machine at the county headquarters in Hardin. Her office has set up a satellite ballot collection site to serve the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, whose lands straddle both Big Horn and Rosebud counties.

“I may not look it, but I am Native, so not wanting these alternate election offices would be like not wanting rights for myself or my family members,” said Bear Don’t Walk, who will be overseeing one satellite office at a Busby High School for the Northern Cheyenne in Big Horn County.

Despite Crow leadership opting out of satellite offices, as of Wednesday, Bear Don’t Walk’s tally has 28% of registered voters in the county having already submitted their ballots, just under half from precincts on the Crow Reservation. The number nearly eclipses the overall turnout for the June primaries.

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Meanwhile, the statewide independent political organization Montana Native Vote has organized get-out-the-vote efforts on all seven reservations, including the Crow. MNV regional organizer Lori Kindness has been driving to communities across the Crow Reservation, going door-to-door delivering and collecting ballots for people unable or unwilling to travel to Bear Don’t Walk’s office in Hardin. 

“We just did a pop-up stop in Lodge Grass and got 15 people registered to vote and collected five ballots,” Kindness said on Friday. “I’m doing the same thing in Wyola tomorrow morning.”

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