Montana Indian voting lawsuit settled
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McCulloch (Photo: TRIBUNE PHOTO/LARRY BECKNER )
HELENA – Indian plaintiffs who sued in federal court to force the Montana secretary of state and three rural counties to open satellite voting offices on remote reservations have settled the lawsuit out of court.
Under the agreement, the three counties agree to open satellite voting locations on three reservations and pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees in the amount of $75,000. In a separate agreement, the state agrees to pay an additional $25,000 in attorney fees, according to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch.
"I pledged to help assist the tribes and the counties to make this all work," McCulloch said.
Both sides hailed the agreement as a win.
Northern Cheyenne tribal member Mark Wandering Medicine, along with 11 other Indian plaintiffs, in February 2013 sued McCulloch and county elections officials in Blaine, Rosebud and Big Horn counties, alleging the defendants violated portions of the federal Voting Rights Act, which "prohibit voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in one of the language minority groups."
The plaintiffs argued their rights to equal access to voting were violated when McCulloch and county elections officials refused to set up satellite voting offices on remote Indian reservations in advance of the November 2012 presidential election.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the ACLU of Montana and the national ACLU Voting…