As Americans, we fight for the right for everyone’s voice to be heard through their ballot. The challenge, however, is that we must provide proper polling places that are within a reasonable distance within communities. It’s with this in mind that Matt Rudig and other Coconino County officials set up voting booths and polling stations deep beyond the Grand Canyon trails.
Within a gorge just outside Grand Canyon National Park lies the village of the Havasupai Tribe. It is a 3.5 hour hike down the canyon while enduring the Grand Canyon weather. Despite this arduous trek, volunteers go down to the village to serve 100 registered voters and make sure their ballots are counted.
Here’s some extra Grand Canyon facts: Coconino County officials have been going down to the Havasupai Indian Reservation, a small tribe of 450 people, for every major election since 1968. In 1967, fifty of the tribe members petitioned to have a polling station provided to their village on election days. The supervisors unanimously approved, agreeing to send an official to make sure each ballot is collected and counted.
However, the history of voting for the state of Arizona and local First Nation tribes wasn’t always this pretty. According to an article in the Arizona State Law Journal, various tribes had sued the state for literacy tests and vote ID laws that prevented many non-English speaking members and those who didn’t have proper identification from voting. They also fought against an Arizona law that made it illegal to collect other people’s ballots as many tribes rely on ballot collection in order to make sure their votes counted.
Today, the county officials provide the tribe touchscreen equipment to cast ballots. This equipment along with a voting booth and signature rosters are flown in via helicopter the day before the election.
“These folks deserve a chance to show up on Election Day and vote just like anybody else,” Rudig said.