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Phoenix Area Tribes Work To Increase Voter Participation

(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community recently wrapped up one of its last voter registration drives before the general election. It’s one of several efforts being held around the state to increase Native American voter participation.

Tuesday’s drive resulted in the addition of 17 new voters within the tribe’s precinct. For the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian community, this is a monthly event. Since launching in February, they’ve convinced more than 60 people to register.

Angela Willeford, is an intergovernmental relations project manager with the tribe. She said drives like these are meant to highlight importance of voting.

"Historically, Native American’s weren’t given the right to vote," Willeford explains. "So that’s something that I stress which is so important to Native Americans that our ancestors were not able to vote, but we as Native Americans today can. So we need to make sure that our voice is heard loud and clear."

According to the Justice Department, Native American voter participation lags behind non-native participation by about 15-20 percent nationwide.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.