The Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project (the Project), as part of its work with ASU Law’s Indian Legal Clinic (ILC), focused on preparing for the 2022 midterm elections. ILC Director and Clinical Professor of Law Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19), Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) and student attorneys worked on several issues: legislative tracking, community outreach, revisions to the Elections Procedures Manual, litigation and election protection.
The ILC coordinated with Tribes, counties and voting rights organizations leading up to the 2022 elections. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) hosted monthly strategy sessions bringing together these stakeholders to talk about ongoing democracy issues in Arizona. The Project regularly presented at these meetings on issues of proposed legislation, litigation, election results and data on voter engagement and access in Arizona Tribal communities.
Fellows Tarman-Toner and Dolan were active participants in other community coalitions including the Arizona Voting Rights Coalition, the Native American Voting Rights Coalition, the Arizona Election Advocacy Group, and Election Protection Arizona.
In March 2023, Ferguson-Bohnee was appointed by Governor Katie Hobbs to serve on the Governor’s Bipartisan Elections Task Force. The task force was created pursuant to Executive Order 2023-03 with the task of studying and making recommendations to strengthen election laws, policies, and procedures in the state of Arizona.
On April 17, Ferguson-Bohnee presented at the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference on the state of Native American Voting Rights. Ferguson-Bohnee spoke about the recent legislation passed in Arizona impacting voting rights, ongoing litigation and the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project’s 2022 program.
ILC Director Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Dolan, and Tarman-Toner responded to reports of a polling location in rural Pinal County that opened nearly four hours late on Election Day during the primaries. The ILC, along with the Lawyers’ Committee, filed a complaint and application for temporary restraining order on behalf of the Arizona Democracy Resource Center and Rural Arizona Engagement. The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief requesting that Pinal County extend the hours of operation in light of the delayed opening. Despite acknowledging the violation of law by failing to open for four hours thereby denying equal voting time for the voters in that precinct, the County failed to act. While the Court recognized that the harm was not de minimis, the Court failed to grant any relief. During the General Election, Arizona Native Vote Election Protection volunteers reported polling locations in Apache County that failed to open on time on Election Day. The ILC worked with the ACLU and Navajo Nation to file a complaint and application for temporary restraining order on behalf of the Navajo Nation, and the Court extended the time for the polling locations in Apache County to remain open.
The Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project – Ferguson-Bohnee, Dolan, Tarman-Toner and ILC student attorneys Chad Edwards (3L), Brittany Habbart (3L), Michael LaValley (3L), Mallory Moore (3L), and Ruben Zendejas (3L), Autumn Shone (3L) and its partners – operated its Native Vote Election Protection Hotline throughout the early voting period and on Election Day during the 2022 Primary and General elections. In addition to operating the hotline for the General Election, the Project had 66 Election Protection Volunteers stationed at multiple polling locations across 9 Tribal communities. Review more in the ILP blog post: Your vote, your voice.
ILC student attorneys Moore and Shone led and conducted two training sessions for volunteers. After completing her final semester, Moore enjoyed working with the Project. “It was honestly one of the most difficult, time consuming, and rewarding things I have done in law school,” said she said. “I am so grateful to have had this opportunity because I feel like it was a great way to learn and grow as a person.”
“Thank you to Torey Dolan and Blair Tarman-Toner for answering every silly question I had about Native Vote and NNALSA Moot Court,” said Shone.
2023 Elections Procedures Manual
The Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project joined its voting partners to prepare comments, analysis and recommendations to the Secretary of State’s office on the proposed Election Procedures Manual (EPM). The EPM is a comprehensive source of law on the administration of state and federal elections in Arizona. The Project commented on the 2021 proposed EPM drafted by then Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and is similarly preparing comments for now Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.
Planning for 2024
During the Spring 2023 Semester, the ILC, including Student Attorney Kristina Major (2L) began to focus on planning for the 2024 Election Cycle. The Clinic will continue to work with its partners throughout the summer to plan for the next election cycle.