We are celebrating major wins for Native communities in the final Election Procedures Manual (“EPM”) approved by Gov. Katie Hobbs on Dec. 29, 2023. The Indian Legal Clinic provided analysis and recommendations to Tribal leaders throughout this year’s EPM process, and as a result, leaders were successful in advocating for robust Tribal consultation and language assistance policies, as well as guidance on poll worker training related to key issues impacting Native voters. Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee provided an EPM update to Tribal leaders at the January Native Vote Strategy Session, and Democracy Director Joel Edman gave a legislative update.
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.
2022 is another year that has seen Arizona Native voters and their rights disproportionally challenged on the ballot. “Native advocates say voter ID rules in Proposition 309 could disenfranchise Arizona Indigenous voters,” said Native Vote fellow Torey Dolan (’19) in her interview with the AZ Central. The article discusses the impact that Proposition 309 will have on Tribal communities if passed. Proposition 309 would limit the forms of identification that are acceptable for in-person voting and would eliminate many forms of Tribal identification that voters currently rely on.
Despite this ballot measure and redistricting issues, the Indian Legal Clinic’s Native Vote Election Protection team organized and strategized with its partners to remain steadfast leading up to Election Day. Dolan presented at the Tribal leaders meeting hosted by the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and discussed the propositions’ impacts on Tribal communities and Native voters.
Indian Legal Clinic student attorneys Mallory Moore (3L) and Autumn Shone (3L) led and conducted two trainings for volunteers.
This year, 66 volunteers served as Election Protectors stationed at multiple polling locations to assist voters at 9 Tribal communities: the Ak-Chin Indian Community, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the Tohono O’odham Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
On Election Day, the Native Vote team worked with the Navajo Nation to assist in emergency litigation due to delays in the opening of a polling location in Many Farms, Arizona. Katherine Belzowski, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice Economic and Community Development Unit, said “The Indian Legal Clinic was instrumental to the Navajo Nation’s success in the 2022 Election. ILC worked with the Navajo Department of Justice (NDOJ) to monitor state polling locations across the Nation. With ILC’s assistance NDOJ was able to timely investigate and respond every concern submitted to the ILC and NDOJ voting hotline.”
Thank you to all volunteers, advocates and allies for serving as Election Protectors and organizing the Native Vote power! With your help, we were able to assist voters through the hotline and in the field, ensuring that Native voters were able to cast ballots free from intimidation and without undue challenges. This year’s ILC Native Vote leadership team includes dedicated ILP Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19) and Blair Tarman-Toner (’20), student attorney leads Mallory Moore (3L) and Autumn Shone (3L), and student attorneys Chad Edwards (3L), Brittany Habbart (3L), Michael LaValley (3L), and Ruben Zendejas (3L), under the supervision of Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee.
Are you interested in making a difference in Arizona Native American communities this voting season? If you are interested in volunteering on Election Day, November 8, sign up for one of the volunteer training sessions.
Beus Center for Law and Society, Phoenix, AZ
This year, Professor Helen E. Burtis (’07) helmed the Indian Legal Clinic while Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee sharpened her focus on other projects on sabbatical. During the academic year, eleven student attorneys worked over 3600 hours handling 22 cases covering a variety of subjects and venues, including tribal, state, and federal courts. Some of the accomplishments that students realized on behalf of their clients included assisting an elder to officially enroll in her tribe after a lifetime of paperwork complications, creating bylaws for a nonprofit funding youth in the arts, and successfully starting or concluding several appointments of personal representatives in probate cases. Students also researched and recommended options to protect tribal land, to recover expenses for services not performed, and to recover debts.
This was the first year students were able to appear in tribal courts for criminal cases since the start of the pandemic. While still not at full capacity, seven student attorneys made appearances in tribal courts for both prosecution and defense. For many students, this was their first appearance in court.
The ILC also expanded services for Indian Wills Clinics, forging new partnerships with two tribes while continuing two existing partnerships. In September 2021, 3L student attorneys Jacob Broussard, Liliana Elliot, Lindsay Ficklin, Zaine Ristau and Dwight Witherspoon and Professor Burtis traveled to Winterhaven, California for the third Wills Clinic for the Quechan Indian Tribe and in October, the same team also provided the third Wills Clinic for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Temecula, California.
In February 2022, clinic students Gwendolyn Bell (2L), Ryan Maxey (2L), Lena Neuner (2L), Claire Newfeld (2L), Ravynn Nothstine (2L) and David Streamer (3L) and Professor Burtis traveled to Santa Rosa Rancheria, California for the first Wills Clinic for the Tachi Yokut Tribe.
In March, this team remotely provided another first Wills Clinic from ASU Law to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut.
Overall, student attorneys created estate planning documents including wills, healthcare powers of attorney, and financial powers of attorney for 45 tribal clients during these Wills Clinics.
The ILC Team, including Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19) and Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) and Professor Ferguson-Bohnee, continues to work with tribes to protect tribal land and resources, uphold tribal sovereignty, advocate for cultural protections, support voting rights, and assist with status clarification of Tribes. Notably, Ferguson-Bohnee successfully argued and won a case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that found “intratribal disputes are generally nonjusticiable in federal courts.”
Tarman-Toner presented to the National Congress of American Indians’ Federal Recognition Task Force. Her presentation provided updates on Tribes seeking to gain federal recognition through legislative, judicial, and administrative avenues.
Honore Callingham (’18)
Law Fellow, Indian Legal Clinic, ASU Law
Program Coordinator Sr, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law
This year, Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19) and Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) worked on a variety of voting rights issues. The goals of the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project at ASU Law for this year was to: analyze the 2020 election cycle, track democracy developments in the state legislature and with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, and prepare for the upcoming midterm election.
Mapping & Redistricting
The U.S. Constitution requires states to redraw their congressional and state legislative district boundaries every 10 years following each decennial Census. The goal of redistricting is to protect the constitutional right to “one person, one vote” by ensuring that each district has approximately the same number of people. In Arizona, the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) is tasked with redrawing the State’s congressional and state legislative districts.
Why It’s Important for Arizona Native Voters
Ensuring that the redistricting process remains fair is critical for Native American voters in Arizona, as it determines whether voters can elect their candidates of choice into state and federal offices. The redistricting process ultimately determines access to resources as well as a communities’ political representation.
ILC Redistricting Efforts
Tarman-Toner joined the Native Vote team as a Native Vote Fellow and hit the ground running by tracking the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission as they redrew the State’s congressional and legislative districts. Tarman-Toner tracked the Commission’s deliberations over the course of its fourteen decision-making meetings as well as tracked the public comments made at thirty-two public hearings. The ILC created a redistricting guide, regularly presented to Tribes regarding the redistricting process, and assisted Tribes in drafting public comments. The ILC submitted oral and written testimony regarding compliance with the Voting Rights Act, maintenance of a strong Native American majority-minority district, and respecting reservation boundaries as communities of interest.
Tarman-Toner also created a redistricting summary from the 2021 redistricting cycle to share with Tribes.
Dolan was recently quoted in The Guardian’s article “Redrawn Arizona congressional map drains Native American voting power.”
In September 2021, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe reached a settlement with Pima County to restore an in-person early voting location on the reservation. This provides voters living on the reservation an opportunity to vote in-person early, safely, and in their community just as other Arizonans have voted across Pima County for the past four years. The settlement agreement also provides for cooperation on voter registration and outreach. Student attorneys at the time Aspen Miller (’21), Jens Camp (’21) worked with Ferguson-Bohnee and Dolan to prepare for the preliminary injunction hearing in Fall 2020.
In April 2022, ILP legal team defends voting rights in Arizona. ILP advisory council member Judith Dworkin (JD ’86) and Ferguson-Bohnee represented the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona in an amicus brief regarding the constitutionality of early voting. Dolan and Tarman-Toner assisted in drafting the brief.
Testimony and Reports
The Native Vote Election Protection Project actively to protect the rights of Native American voters in Arizona. On October 27, Ferguson-Bohnee testified at the “Voting Matters in Native Communities Hearing” before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Native Vote Fellows Dolan and Tarman helped prepare the testimony that was delivered to the Committee.
Dolan and Tarman-Toner co-authored an article discussing the Native American Voting Rights Act for the Daily Journal.
The team issued its 2018 Native Vote Election Protection Project Report, which details voter issues faced by Tribal voters in the 2018 election.
Throughout the 2022 Legislative Session, Dolan and Tarman-Toner tracked bills impacting the right to vote and identified 142 democracy-related bills in the Arizona State Legislature—72 in the Senate and 70 in the House of Representatives.
The ILC coordinated with its voting partners, Tribes, and counties to address issues in anticipation of the 2022 election cycle. As members of the Arizona Native Vote Coalition, the ILC worked with ITCA and All Voting is Local to host and present at monthly Native Vote Strategy Sessions. In addition to strategic planning for 2022, Dolan and Tarman-Toner regularly provided legislative analysis and updates to Tribes at the sessions.
In September 2021, Ferguson-Bohnee emceed the Secretary of State’s first-ever Tribal Nations Conference.
On May 4, the ILC joined the “May the Vote Be With You” event organized by Angela Salazar-Willeford (MLS ’22) and hosted by her tribe Salt River-Maricopa Indian Community and ITCA.
Last month, the White House issued the “Report of the Interagency Steering Group on Native American Voting Rights” after hosting a series of regional consultations with tribal leaders and members and engaging in listening sessions with organizations advocating for improved tribal voting rights. ASU Law’s Indian Legal Clinic participated in the White House consultations as part of the clinic’s Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project. The White House report explores the problems that Native American voters face and presents best practices and recommendations to mitigate and eliminate barriers that Native American voters encounter. The report featured the clinic’s polling locator tool created by Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19).
In response to a special action petition filed in the Arizona Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of early voting in Arizona, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Judy Dworkin (JD ’86) represented the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, Inc. (ITCA) in an amicus brief in the case. The amicus explained the history of Native American disenfranchisement in Arizona, that early voting is constitutional, that all early voting options are needed to address the unique barriers experienced by Native American voters, and that eliminating drop boxes and in-person early voting may expose Arizona to federal litigation. Native Vote Fellows Dolan and Blair Tarman-Toner (’20) assisted in drafting the brief.
The ITCA hosts monthly “Native Vote Strategy Sessions” to assist tribal governments in planning for upcoming elections. Native Vote Fellows Dolan and Tarman-Toner provided a legislative update at the “March Strategy Session.” Dolan and Tarman-Toner are continuing to track bills in the Arizona State Legislature that impact voting in tribal communities.
We appreciate our valuable Native Vote partners and the ongoing efforts that impact our voting power.
Blair Tarman-Toner (’21)
Native Vote Fellow, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law
Last month, the Arizona Native Vote Communications Working Group made its return. Native Vote Fellow Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) attended the group’s meeting, and she will participate in the planning and organizing of election education and outreach materials to share in tribal communities as the group continues to meet regularly.
ASU Law’s Indian Legal Clinic has continued working on the Native Vote policy project since Arizona’s legislative session began last month. Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19) and Tarman-Toner will continue tracking bills that impact voting and will inform tribes as to how particular bills impact their tribal members. So far, the Indian Legal Clinic has identified 142 democracy-related bills in the Arizona Legislature – 72 in the Senate and 70 in the House of Representatives. Additionally, the clinic has continued its work with other voting rights organizations through the Arizona Voting Rights Defense Coalition.
The Indian Legal Clinic is preparing to present at two upcoming meetings of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona to discuss barriers to voting in Indian Country and the upcoming elections.
Additionally, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission certified the state’s congressional and legislative maps. Tarman-Toner will continue tracking the county-level redistricting process. The county-level district lines must be finalized by July 1.