RON SCHALOW: A Shame And A Sham

That’s what Rob Port called a meeting at Standing Rock because it mildly illuminated his bigoted opinion of the Native American voting experience.

A shame and a sham.

On April 16, this happened: The Congressional Subcommittee on Elections held a Field Hearing: Voting Rights and Election Administration in the Dakotas. That’s how they billed it.

The subcommittee also went to Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas.

But Port doesn’t like it when the First People get uppity, so he used his Easter Sunday column to write a portrayal that of the hearing that bore no resemblance to the actual event. It was like a Donald Trump Tuesday.

Either he sincerely doesn’t believe any Native Americans have their votes suppressed, which would make him dim, or he’s a racist demagogue. Spoiler alert. It’s No. 2.

Rob thinks he’s a “big boy” journalist, but the constant lying and failure to do research undermine any accidental journalism.

Of course, he wouldn’t go personally onto tribal land, but the whole meeting that he falsely called a “Democratic rally” was a somber truth-telling hearing that can be viewed and read right here.

Port wouldn’t even view or read.

A shame and a sham and a pistol pointing ham.

So he smeared the gathering by making something up. It’s sad, such slobbering slothery. I wonder if the management at the Forum knows that Port is a lazy liar?

Evidently not.

Robbie actually used a post he wrote previously to the event as a template to vilify the meeting before it even happened and decided to go with his fictional account.

Port shills for the North Dakota GOP, among other entities and people, and his client doesn’t like to be criticized about their actions to marginalize Native voters.

Everyone is not treated the same at the ballot box, as Port and pals would have their base believe. Who else would believe him? And he just happens to share the same base as Trump and North Dakota “Cult 45” members. What a coincidence.

There were 15,000 words of testimony. Below is just a sliver, taken directly from the transcript, as is. Speakers names have been removed to prevent personal attacks from Port:

  • “Because of this high poverty rate the community’s access remains limited. Limited because those living below poverty do not have vehicles, Driver’s Licenses, or other means of public transportation to various government service providers. So, the recent enactment of North Dakota Bills which places requirements on the original citizens of the land tend to diminish, discourage, and repress the Turtle Mountain Tribal Citizen’s right to vote and access to the poll.”
  • “So in order to Vote for the President or any of the federal delegation to U.S. Congress, my tribal community must vote in a State Election. This is not our preference.”
  • “The Tribal Government enacted law to enable voters to receive free Tribal Identification Cards. Understand that the fee of $15 is not exorbitantly high but $15 is milk and bread for a week for a poor family.”
  • “Still with this mandate for free Identification Card mandate, things were not easy. The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians’ reservation use of addresses and street names commenced recently. Uniform Addressing and Numbering of residences only occurred within the last ten years. Still we implement that law with street naming and house numbering, street signs do not exist. Most residences lack a house number.”
  • “While we do not comment upon the intent of law, but its practical implication acted to disenfranchise the people of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. We met the challenge and improved voter turn out from the 2016 presidential election by 42 percent.  But please understand this took a great amount of financial and times resources.”
  • “The opponents of equality, on the other hand, hold public office, come from both major political parties, and are able to tap into taxpayer resources to oppose equal access for Native American voters living on Indian Reservations.”
  • “Too often, though, where we have been unable to find financial resources for counties, they simply refuse to establish satellite voting offices the next time around.”
  • “… made a written request of North Dakota Secretary of State Jaeger to establish early voting on Standing Rock — which was available in Fargo, Bismarck, Mandan, Grand Forks, and Minot, North Dakota — on October 18, 2018.  Secretary Jaeger declined the request.”
  • “States however, still found ways to create arbitrary barriers to voting.”
  • “Many times, running out and denying people the opportunity to vote because there were no more ballots. The Fort Berthold reservation is divided by six voting districts that are set up to confuse and creating barriers because of the distance voters have to travel to cast an in-person ballot.”
  • “People who drove an hour to vote, only to be told they are at the wrong polling location. A trend conversation is to make some or all of the precincts on the Fort Berthold reservation mail in only also creates a barrier as postal stations are closing in the rural communities of North Dakota.”
  • “… denial of common forms of identification such as tribal ID’s and student ID’s. Elders were turned away because they didn’t have ID cards and they no longer had the affidavit process, legitimizing their right to vote.”
  • “Several voters were turned away because they were at the wrong polling location, they would not be voting, again a confusing dynamic of having a reservation split by 6 districts.”
  • “The state of ND did not put forward any efforts to fund the mandated requirement. Tribal members, citizens of ND implemented incredible efforts to build the voter turnout accomplished in the 2018 elections. With less than a month to scale local efforts to reach the potential tens of thousands of Native voters in ND who needed new ID’s to vote.”
  • “We as a voting block have been left out of this civic process for so long that some have grown apathetic, yet we are the most legislated demographic in the entire country.”
  • “There continues to be barriers, interpersonal and systemic at our polling locations in our tribal communities and for our Native voters across the state.”
  • “The state’s recent voter IDs laws carry a similar anti-Indian undertone. North Dakota has had voter ID laws in place since 2004, but for years the law still permitted individuals to vote if the poll worker could vouch for the identity of a qualified voter or the voter signed an affidavit swearing, under penalty of perjury, that he or she was qualified to vote.”
  • “Many people on Standing Rock do not have an ID. It simply is not necessary for everyday life. Most people know each other and many people do not have a vehicle. And the truth is, an ID costs money that people simply do not have. The family poverty rate in Sioux County, North Dakota, alone is 35.9 percent.’ The nearest Driver’s License Site is about 40 miles away — the average person is not going to travel that distance just to get an ID they do not need.”
  • “Additionally, the U.S. Postal Service does not always operate in the rural areas of the Reservation. Many members use and share PO boxes instead of having mail delivered straight to their homes. And even if USPS did operate within the Reservation, many of the homes are not marked with house numbers, many streets lack signage, and even if the state government has an address listed for a particular residence, that might not have ever been communicated to the homeowners. And to make matters worse, the state uses multiple addressing systems, so some government officials might have one address listed while another has a different address.”
  • “We also have a significant portion of the population that is moving from home to home because they do not have housing of their own, which means that even though they remain within the reservation, they do not have a consistent address. This makes the residential address requirement especially burdensome.”
  • “Indeed, the affidavit fail-safe was in place for nearly a century in North Dakota.”
  • “The legislature never analyzed whether the Native American voters it was told lacked addresses in 2011 still lacked addresses — indeed, those Native American voters continue to lack addresses to this day.”
  • “While this amendment may have addressed the issues for voters who simply left their IDs at home, it ultimately failed to address the concern for those who, although qualified to vote, could not reasonably obtain a qualifying ID or who had no residential address to place on the ID.28.”
  • “Yet, Native Americans across North Dakota still disproportionately lack residential addresses and the resources necessary to obtain qualifying ID. There remains a housing crisis across the North Dakota reservations and individuals must move from home to home to keep a roof over their head.”
  • “Sadly, even if I were to run in my reservation, that district would not be majority Native American. Most of my reservation is encompassed by legislative District 4. Only one Indigenous person has ever been elected from District 4 because the white population overwhelms the Native vote.”
  • “5,632 members currently live on the Fort Berthold reservation with another 3,655 living in close proximity, yet there are no majority Native American districts. If maps were drawn another way, Native Americans could easily support their own district.”
  • “In fact, the dilution of the Native vote is even more outrageous if you look at the counties.”
  • “There are SIX counties that intersect the Fort Berthold Reservation, ensuring no Native American representation among county seats. It is disrespectful to the people of the Fort Berthold Reservation to subject them not only to voter dilution, but also to confusion as they move from county to county. Not one county official is currently responsible for ensuring that the needs of all of the Fort Berthold people are being met.”
  • “The maps are drawn unfairly and the Native vote is suppressed through North Dakota’s current voter ID law.”
  • “One story shows how difficult it to get an accurate address. One member had to come in three times to get an address. He called the 911 coordinator multiple times and when he was finally issued an address it was one of the incorrect addresses issued by the 911 coordinator when compared to the website provided.”
  • “The Enrollment office predicts that many of the individuals who obtained a new ID will not be living at the same address by the next state or federal election.”
  • “Bottom line, members of the Standing Rock Tribe feel that the North Dakota voter ID law was meant to target them and dissuade them from exercising their constitutional right to vote. It was hurtful to our members to be excluded this way and our community remains outraged.”
  • “… I would argue that in my 13th year of writing about North Dakota politics I’m probably one of the most consequential reporters/commentators in the state.” — Rob Port

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