How a South Dakota County Is Suppressing the Native American Vote
The Crow Creek Indian Reservation lies along the Missouri River in central South Dakota, an area marked by rolling hills of corn fields, a government-constructed dam and a Native American town centered around the tribe’s casino.
While South Dakotans across the state have been voting for weeks — the state offers 46 days of early absentee voting — the Crow Creek Sioux have yet to see their ballots. The closest early voting site is a 50 mile roundtrip away in Gann Valley, a town with a population of 14. The Buffalo County auditor, a white resident of the town, has refused to set aside federal funds to open a satellite office for early voting on the reservation this year.
That 50-mile trip is effectively impossible for many people on the reservation. Sixty-five-year-old Crow Creek resident Sylvia Walters lives in a government-subsidized apartment building for the elderly and disabled in Fort Thompson, the largest town on Crow Creek. She told ThinkProgress that because she doesn’t have a car, she has to pay someone to drive her if she wants to leave her immediate part of town. “I stay home a lot. Let’s put it that way,” she said. Although she plans on voting in November, she said she would have preferred having the option to vote early. “Sometimes you forget on the day or you’re busy,” she said. “This way when you’re thinking about it you can get it done.”