Get Out the Native Vote: Why Your Vote Matters


Today, Natives make up nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population. As of 2016, that’s 6.7 million people. In the days of highly charged political climates and narrow election margins, Native people become increasingly integral to the democratic process.

However, nearly one third of Natives who are eligible to vote are unregistered. In Washington state, that translates to thousands of critical votes from our tribal communities.

Why does this happen? In tribal elections, Natives tend to turn out in standard numbers. But in general elections, Natives turn out 5–14 percent less than other demographics. Many attribute this to a lack of trust in the federal government, the thought that their vote doesn’t matter, or a feeling that the political system does not care about them. And many do not know how to register.

All of this is understandable, as Native voting rights were only legally enfranchised with the Voting Rights Act of 1965; legislation that is within living memory of many tribal members.

And yet, with movements like #NativeVote18 and #SheRepresents, Natives are making a place for themselves in the political sphere. Native candidates are more plentiful and successful than ever, with Native women especially leading the charge. Take Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who is likely to be the FIrst Native woman ever elected to Congress. Tribal communities need to be engaged at all levels of politics to increase the gains Native candidates are making.

If you are not registered, the deadline for new Washington state voters is October 29. Go to to register now.