NESPELEM - The Colville Business Council approved a resolution in special session, Aug. 22, that will allow Okanogan County to install election ballot drop boxes on tribal government property within the county for upcoming elections.

Resolution 2019-480, which was presented to the full council from the CBC Tribal Government Committee, notes the first ballot drop box will be installed at the Lucy F. Covington Government Center in Nespelem.

In March, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a Native Voting Rights Act that, in part, allows the state attorney general the ability to sue counties “for failure to establish a tribally-requested ballot drop box or collect ballots from a tribally-designated pickup and collection point.”

Tribal members across Indian Country turn out to vote at a rate up to 14 percent less than any other group, according to the National Congress of American Indians, and during testimony for the state bill, lack of access to ballot drop boxes was listed as one of many barriers that hinder tribal members from participating in county, state and national elections.

In previous elections, Okanogan County has placed a drop box at the Coulee Dam City Hall.

In Ferry County, drop boxes have been placed at the San Poil Community Health Center in Keller and the Lake Roosevelt Community Health Center in Inchelium.

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