Organizers focus on reaching Indigenous voters in northern Minnesota
October 30, 2020
Editor's note: Since the publication of this story, the Reformer has learned that many - perhaps most - of the new registrations are not necessarily new voters. Rather, many are registered voters who changed their addresses. Some of the new registration forms may also have been duplicates. The information arose from a new interview with the Beltrami County auditor/treasurer and an official with the voting activism group Four Directions. This story has been updated to reflect the new information, and we are continuing to report on the situation.
The Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake Reservations collaborated with the environmental group MN 350 and Four Directions - a voting advocacy organization - to register hundreds of new Indigenous voters this fall. Around 5,500 Red Lake Nation citizens filled out voter registration forms. It's not clear how many are new voters, however. Many of them were already registered but filled out the forms to indicate a change of address. Another 2,500 completed registration forms were split between White Earth and Leech Lake.
Even if the registrations are not all new voters, they indicate person-to-person contact between organizers and voters, which will make it more likely people on the reservations will mail in a ballot or turn out Tuesday. That in turn could have implications for local and state elections. Red Lake Nation is situated primarily in Beltrami and Clearwater Counties. One in five residents of Beltrami County are American Indian, as are roughly one in 10 in the neighboring Clearwater County.