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Amy Klobuchar

10/20/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/20/2021 17:23

Klobuchar at Hearing on Protecting Voting Rights for Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Tribal Communities: “This is About the Salvation of Our Democracy”

As Chairwoman of the Rules Committee, Klobuchar has worked to ensure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of their zip code

Watch Klobuchar Remarks HERE

WASHINGTON - At today's Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Restoring the Voting Rights Act: Protecting the Native American and Alaska Native," U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections and campaign finance law, delivered remarks on the critical need to protect voting rights for Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and people living on tribal lands.

"This is about the salvation of our democracy. We won't stop fighting until we protect the sacred right to vote, which is why this hearing today is so important," said Klobuchar. "The Native American Voting Rights Act will help address many of the challenges tribal communities face in accessing the ballot box."

The full transcript of remarks as given below and video available for TV download HERE and online viewing HERE.

I'll be quick, I wanted to -- we're doing a hearing, Senator Blunt and myself, over in Rules on oversight of the libraries, which went quite well, but this is a really important hearing and I wish I could be there in person. And it couldn't be happening on a more important day, in terms of us attempting to move forward, and pledging to continue to move forward on voting legislation.

I want to thank you, Chair Blumenthal, for holding the hearing, and I also want to thank Ben Ray Luján for his leadership.

I am the Chair of the Rules Committee, and we want to pass all these bills, and I want to make sure to participate today and express my strong support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the inclusion of the Native American Voting Rights Act, which as I mentioned, Senator Luján is leading.

Provisions from the Native American Voting Rights Act are also included in the Freedom to Vote Act, which is my bill that Senator Manchin and many others - which came out of the work that we did on the Rules committee. So all of that process aside, what is this really about?

And our witnesses know it well - this is about the salvation of our democracy. We should not stop fighting until we protect the sacred right to vote.

My state of Minnesota has a large and diverse tribal population, and I know that Native American communities in particular face unique challenges all over the country when it comes to registering to vote, casting their ballot, and ultimately having their ballot counted.

In the lead up to the election last year, tribal leaders across the country expressed concern that their communities were being left behind in the face of significant obstacles to their voting.

Some Native American voters had to drive up to 280 miles one way just to cast their ballot, just to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Others saw widespread closures of polling locations on tribal lands. And many experienced issues receiving their mail-in ballots because Native American homes on tribal lands often do not have, I'm sure you've discussed this, traditional residential mailing addresses.

Since the election, almost 400 bills have been introduced across the country, in every state, and over 30 of them have been signed into law in 19 states -- including states that are home to many tribes, like Montana, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

These bills aren't just empty threats or some kind of bullet point on a political brochure. They are real efforts to stop people from voting, and many could make it difficult, even more difficult for Native Americans to exercise their right to vote.

The Native American Voting Rights Act will help address many of the challenges tribal communities face in accessing the ballot with its basic safeguards so that election officials accept Tribal ID for voter ID purposes. One early voting ballot drop box and polling location per precinct, what a difference that would make on Tribal lands, and making sure that states provide mail-in voting materials in applicable native languages as well as in English.

These protections will make a big difference in tribal communities across the country.

As Congressman Lewis said: 'Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.'

So let's do this. Let's create a more perfect union. And we know that to do that, our democracy must work for all citizens that can participate. This hearing is an important step forward in making that a reality. Thank you.

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