The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians Tribal Council approved a resolution accepting designation of the Shingle Springs Health and Wellness Center as a voter registration agency under the National Voter Registration Act. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., and Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians Tribal Chairwoman Regina Cuellar announced the designation after a special session of the Tribal Council.
The designation provides tribal community members and others in this rural community easily accessible opportunities to register to vote in elections conducted in California.
“This designation means we are now partners, said Weber. “We want to make sure that every voter who is eligible to vote has an opportunity to vote. Like the Department of Motor Vehicles and California healthcare providers under NVRA, this will provide a convenient opportunity for visitors to the Shingle Springs Health and Wellness Center to register to vote. We have as our goal 100 percent registration of eligible voters in California, that includes the full enfranchisement of Indigenous peoples throughout the state.”
“Throughout this nation’s history, voting rights and equitable access to registration has been a key ethical and political issue that as a self-governing people, we understand as an essential right for every citizen,” said Tribal Chairwoman Regina Cuellar.
She went on to explain, “Allowing Indian Health Service facilities to qualify as voter registration sites under the NVRA meets that goal. Currently, more than one-third of voting age Native Americans are not registered to vote. As a health care center aimed at providing services to every citizen of this tribe and the surrounding community, tribal and non-tribal, our motto of ‘Healthcare for all’ stands true to the spirit of the administration’s executive order, ‘Voting for all.'”
Weber added, “We also hope that other tribes in California take advantage of this opportunity to provide voter registration access to their residents.”
The NVRA of 1993 includes provisions that offer opportunities to register to vote, in particular through the Department of Motor Vehicles and social service agencies. The designation of the Shingle Springs Health and Wellness Center is the first time a voter registration agency under the NVRA has been established on tribal lands.
“Native American’s registration rates are among the lowest in the country,” said Jacqueline De León, staff attorney, Native American Rights Fund. “This is because Native Americans face logistical barriers that would surprise most Americans. Most Native American homes don’t have addresses and many Native American homes do not receive residential mail.
“This designation provides such a tremendous opportunity for the Shingle Springs community and for Indian country at large. At the Shingle Springs Health and Wellness Center, exercising their sovereignty, choosing to accept designation and embracing these registrations, tribal community members will finally be asked by trusted community members if they’d like to vote.”