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Your Vote Can Make a Difference

By Michelle Washington
Au-Authm Action News

When you turn on the television, read the newspaper or surf the Internet, you see and hear candidates who are campaigning across the United States in hopes of winning the Republican Party nomination. The Republican nominee will run against President Barack Obama in the presidential election on November 6.

You might ask yourself, “Why is this important to me?”

As a Native American constituent, it is your constitutional right as an individual of this nation to choose a candidate who supports Native American issues. If people in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) have strong opinions or concerns about what is going on in Congress, Washington, D.C., or even here within the Community, then they have the obligation to make their voices heard and the right as citizens to vote and make a difference.

During the last SRPMIC Tribal Council meeting on March 14, Council Member Deanna Scabby gave a report on her recent trip to Washington, D.C. She went there along with SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier, Gila River Indian Community Lt. Governor Stephen Roe Lewis and three of the Gila River Council members. They informed members of Congress about their position on H.R. 2938, the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Clarification Act, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona. The bill amends the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act to prohibit class II or III gaming activities on lands that the Tohono O’odham Nation was authorized to purchase in Arizona in exchange for granting the federal government all right, title and interest to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation.

This bill affects not only the Gila River Indian Community, Tohono O’odham Nation and Ak-Chin Indian Community, but also the SRPMIC and all gaming communities.

Council Member Scabby said, “Ultimately [Congress is] going to vote on this issue, and it takes a lot of footwork [to inform] each and every one of those representatives [about the bill and our position on it].”

Maricopa County Elections Office in Downtown Phoenix
The Maricopa County Elections Office is gearing up for the upcoming general election on November 6. Tammy Patrick, federal compliance officer, said the importance of voting is so that one’s opinion and voice is heard. “The government is of the people, for the people, and by the people. If the public lets someone else make those decisions, it might not be what they want and what’s best for their families and for their communities,” said Patrick.

According to the Web site for the Arizona Secretary of State (www.azsos.gov), there are approximately 3.1 million active registered voters in the state of Arizona. Maricopa County is made up of 1142 precincts, which accommodate 1.8 million voters.

The SRPMIC has its own precinct, referred to as “Honda,” which currently has 3,210 active registered voters.

Are You an Active Voter or an Inactive Voter?
Patrick explained the two categories of registered voters. “One is the active voter; that means we mailed something to your house and it didn’t [get returned by the post office because of an incorrect address], so we think you’re still living [at the same address] where you registered to vote,” said Patrick.

Then there is the inactive voter, which means the person is still registered to vote, but election-related mail came back from the post office saying that person is not at that address anymore. “Once we [send] two mailings to a voter, [which] come back undeliverable, that voter will then get moved to the inactive status, because we are not sure where they live.”

If a registered voter goes to vote in person on Election Day or requests an early ballot to vote by mail, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office needs to make sure they have the correct street address or mailing address because mail delivery can impact the voting process.

“You know when you go to the polling place and you sign in on those signature rosters, the bar code [gets scanned in] and that bar code has your voter ID number,” says Patrick. “Our system picks up that you signed next to it and that you voted at that polling place. We automatically update your voting history so that we know that you voted. If you were one of those inactive voters, voting moves you onto the active file. If the voter doesn’t come in and vote for two federal election cycles, then they get cancelled. It is really important that if a voter moves that they let us know so that their registration stays active.”

When you are a registered voter, it is federal law and a part of the National Voter Registration Act that you should keep your residency information updated.

SRPMIC Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs Plans Voter Outreach
SRPMIC Intergovernmental Relations Project Manager Angela Salazar-Willeford said the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs plans voter outreach at upcoming Community events to ensure Community members understand the importance of voting and are correctly registered to vote.

Voter registration forms are currently available at the Office of Intergovernmental Relations on the third floor of Two Waters Building A, suite #315 and at the Community Relations Office on the first floor of Two Waters Building A, suite #104.

Willeford said that if you need assistance filling out the voter registration form, their office will happily provide that service.

Registering to Vote

To register to vote, you must be:
A citizen of the United States.
Age 18 or older before the next general election (November 6, 2012).
A resident of Arizona for 29 days before the next general election.
If you have been convicted of a felony or treason, you may not vote unless your civil rights have been restored.

When to update your voter registration:
You have moved.
You have changed your name.
You want to register as a member of a different political party.

Early Voting By Mail
If you prefer to vote early by mail instead of waiting in line to vote on Election Day, you can sign up for the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL). By completing the PEVL sign-up form, the Maricopa County elections office will automatically mail a ballot to you every time you are eligible to vote in any election—local, state or national. To see if you are already on the Permanent Early Voter list, look up your name at https://recorder.maricopa.gov/earlyvoteballotnet/pevllookup.aspx. To request an early ballot, call the Maricopa County Elections Department at (602) 506-1511.

For voter registration and voting information in Arizona, go online anytime to Service Arizona at www.servicearizona.com. If you have any other questions regarding voter registration, or to see if you are an active registered voter, call (602) 506-1511 or visit http://recorder.maricopa.gov/web/elections.aspx.

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