Wednesday, October 06, 2004

No Voter Registration on Federal Property? 

Today's Washington Post reports an issue that has come up regarding nonpartisan voter registration at Indian Health Services facilities in New Mexico. Staff members at a number of hospitals and clinics were interested in running voter registration drives for staff, patients and patient families this summer, but were informed that this would not be allowed, in a July e-mail from Ronald C. Wood, the executive director of the regional Navajo office. From the e-mail:
"There have been recent questions about whether we can do nonpartisan voter registration drives in our IHS facilities during non-duty hours," Wood wrote. "The guidance from HQs staff is that we should not allow voter registration in our facilities or on federal property."

Needless to say, this order has been questioned. Apparently off-duty voter registration events are encouraged on military bases, which traditionally are strongly Republican. The Native American vote has become "an important constituency for the Democrats."

The Indian Health Service issued a statement yesterday that such drives will be permissible at IHS facilities, as long as the persons working the drive are not on-duty employees.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:00 PM