Making an Impact at the Ballot Box & Beyond

American Indian OIC was among the many players that helped drive important voter turnout of American Indians in the 2020 election.

The organization, working with several partners, hosted an escorted early voting event and celebration at its campus leading up to the election. The event, which garnered extensive media attention, capped off a broad initiative designed to drive voter turnout. The effort featured weekly “Donuts for Democracy” information and early voting sessions, and a spotlight on American Indian candidates across Minnesota via Native Roots Radio.

These efforts “stand as a powerful reminder to all that our people remain strong and vital, and that our voices will always be heard,” said Joe Hobot, AIOIC president and CEO. He shared his views on election night with Minnesota Public Radio.

Across the nation, American Indian voters had an impact.

On the Navajo Nation, the Rural Utah Project led the effort to fuel the Native vote, registering more than 4,000 American Indians in Arizona. At the same time, Allie Young, a 30-year-old member of the Navajo Nation, led groups of young voters to the polls on 10-mile treks on horseback. The strong American Indian turnout in the Grand Canyon state is credited with helping President Elect Joe Biden flip the state blue. It’s estimated that 60% to 90% of the Navajo Nation’s roughly 67,000 eligible voters voted for Biden. In some areas, he received as much as 97 percent of the vote. Native support proved crucial in other states with close races, too, such as Wisconsin and Michigan.

Nationally, 60% of American Indians voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, according to a survey affiliated with the University of New Mexico. The survey, which has tracked American Indian voting for multiple election cycles, noted that despite tremendous challenges to voting in 2020 tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, American Indians had an impact on the presidential race in several states.

They also saw progress in gaining representation. A record-breaking six American Indian candidates were elected to Congress in 2020.

Chi miigwech and wopila tanka to Minnesota Voice and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition for supporting our civic engagement work.