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Native American group labels Wisconsin "state of concern" for Indian voters

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A Native American advocacy group says photo ID laws in a dozen states could drive down the numbers of Indian voters.

And the group labels Wisconsin as one of six “states of concern.”

Jefferson Keel, head of the National Congress of American Indians, says there are races around the country that might hinge on the Native vote – and he wants to make sure no one is disenfranchised by the new voter laws.

Wisconsin has super-tight contests for the presidency and the U.S. Senate. Residents will not have to show ID’s to vote because two judges struck down the requirement, and legal challenges to both rulings are still pending.

But other new voter laws remain in place – including requirements that people live at their current addresses for 28 days, that voters show more definite proof of residency when they register, and banning the practice of people vouching for those who register at the polls.

The group cited cost and logistical barriers to getting the required photo ID’s to vote – which judges in both Wisconsin cases cited in throwing out the ID mandate.

The National Indian Congress is trying to register over a million adults who were not registered in the last presidential contest in 2008. Keel says it doesn’t matter who they vote for – but just by voting, they can help protect their sovereignty. 

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