Ginger Morigeau fills out her provisional ballot at the Ronan Community Center on Election Day.
Indigenous organizers anticipated voter turnout in Montana would be low this year, and they weren’t wrong.
Groups were late to engage Native communities, advocates acknowledged. Voters on reservations said they didn’t know much about the election or who was running. Some felt ignored by candidates; others felt resentful. Many didn’t understand why people living on reservations should vote, as tribes are sovereign.
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Statewide, about 60% of registered voters participated in the election, but in Montana’s four majority-Native American counties, turnout was significantly lower.
Turnout in Glacier, Blaine, Big Horn and Roosevelt counties was also lower than in past midterms. The 2018 election featured a high-profile and expensive Senate race, but turnout in Native counties this year was even lower than it was during the 2014 midterm, which is more comparable.
Republicans Ryan Zinke and Rep. Matt Rosendale also both out-performed past Republicans in majority-Native counties. And in three