Tribal, state, federal election combo drives Reservation voters - KOTA Territory News

Tribal, state, federal election combo drives Reservation voters to polls

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Along with the state and national elections, voters on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation decided on new tribal leadership Tuesday.
 
The Shannon County auditor was skeptical turnout reached 70 percent, but voters turned out in droves.

The voters we talked to said both elections are priorities.
 
"We must work together to be able to move forward," said Tina Merdanian, an Oglala Lakota tribal member we talked to at a polling place in Oglala.
 
"There's so many issues on the reservation and nationwide that need to be addressed," tribal member David Renteria told us in Pine Ridge.
 
Those issues seemed to bring voters to the polls in greater numbers than previous elections.
 
Steven Slow Bear, working with the Oglala Satellite Elections Office, "noticed it's quite a big turnout."
 
As of early Tuesday afternoon, almost 130 voters had submitted ballots there. In Kyle, about 200.

And in Pine Ridge, numbers weren't immediately available, but the voters just kept coming.
 
"To me that was a whole lot from the last election," Slow Bear said.
 
There are 7,783 registered voters in Shannon County on the reservation.

The county auditor didn't expect the voter turnout there to reach 70 percent, as Secretary of State Jason Gant predicted for the state as a whole, but she said the combination of tribal, state, and federal elections really got people to the polls.
 
"I would like things to be better for health care and also funding for children for school," said Estelline K. Black Feather, who had just finished voting in Pine Ridge.
 
"Our population here on the reservation, speaking from my perspective, are becoming very educated into this process," Merdanian said. "They know that their voice is important."
 
Important to their lives, and the lives of the state and country as a whole.
 
"This year is an important year for voter," said Slow Bear

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