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United Tribes students cast ballots
01 December 2008


GETTING TO VOTE: Poll workers examine a voter identification affidavit filled out by United Tribes student Arvella Pomani (Crow Creek Tribe) to vote November 4 in the General Election. She was one of 66 students who took advantage of bus transportation to the college’s voting precinct at nearby Prairie Rose Elementary School. Pomani’s affidavit was confirmed and she was issued a ballot to vote. The more common forms of identification used by students were a driver’s license and college ID. At rear in line waiting for approval to vote, from left, Thomas Fischer (Standing Rock); Jose Lopez, Wichita, KS; Tyson Heart (Oglala Tribe); and JoVaughn Baker (Standing Rock). UTN photo Dennis J. Neumann.

      Tribal Voter Education at United Tribes

      Efforts at tribal voter education among students at United Tribes Technical College appeared to be successful. Activities and events took place on the campus and in Bismarck prior to the November 4 General Election.

      The project was to conduct voter education activities that informed tribal college students in particular about the procedures and importance of American Indian voter participation in the national and state elections. Specific information for first time voters focused on where and how to vote. All activities were undertaken in a non-partisan manner.

      Activities and events were coordinated by United Tribes Technical College, with cooperation and participation from the Indigenous Environmental Network, the North Dakota Tribal Voter Education Project, and UTTC’s Tribal Campus Climate Challenge Green Team.

UTTC Voter Education Activities

September 4: Planning session during the United Tribes Tribal Leader’s Summit to coordinate tribal voter education among the tribal colleges in the region

September 16: UTTC campus visit by the BioTour Bus focusing on issues of sustainability and voter participation

October 9: Distribution of ND Tribal Voter Education Project posters at Sherman Alexie Jr. speaking event in downtown Bismarck

October 15: “What, Where, How to Vote” – Danette Odenbach, ND Association of Counties; Presentation and Q & A at UTTC

October 29: “Tribes and the Constitution” – Attorney Tom Disselhorst and Dr. Phil Baird, both UTTC; Native voting rights; UTTC Education Building

Ongoing: Students sign banner – “The Native Vote,” Displayed in the college cafeteria for students to sign; recognition of the importance of voting; more than 80 people signed

October 27-28: Voter table in cafeteria – Informal survey about how students think the Presidential election will turn out

October 28: Voter Rally-Halloween Party – UTTC campus 6:30 – 8 p.m. Costumes, videos, refreshments, door prizes, and fun for 18 people attending

November 3: Election Eve Voter Reminder Meeting – All staff and students; Voting information provided and Bismarck voting precinct map

November 4: Bus transportation for students to Prairie Rose Elementary School Precinct Polling Site; 9 a.m. and 1 and 4 p.m.

      Activities consisted of guest speakers, sign up banners, straw polls, a voter Halloween party, and a schedule of bus trips to take students to vote at the precinct polling location for on-campus residents.


Business Management student Wakinyan Harden (Cheyenne River Tribe) casts his ballot by feeding it into a vote counting machine on Election Day at the Prairie Rose School Precinct. United Tribes News photo.

      The numerical goal was to document the participation of 50 students in voting on November 4. That was clearly surpassed when 66 students took advantage of bus transportation to the college’s voting precinct at Prairie Rose Elementary School. Judging from anecdotal information, a good many other students, who live in Bismarck and Mandan, voted in precincts elsewhere.

UNITED TRIBES VOTER EDUCATION
United Tribes encourages staff members and students to become informed and educated about elections and exercise their constitutional right, and responsibility, to vote in accordance with the law. Any comments or statements made during the course of voter education meetings or activities, by any individual that might be construed as partisan do not represent the official policy of United Tribes Technical College. As a non-profit higher educational institution, governed by a board of directors, United Tribes does not endorse any particular candidate for public office at any level.