Court Declines to Reinstate Early Voting Site for Arizona Tribe

TUCSON, AZ – Today, a federal court ruled that Pima County, AZ does not have to reinstate an early voting site during the period of October 26-30 for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. The Reservation will also have no ballot dropbox on the premises. The Tribe, represented by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Osborn Maledon and the Indian Law Center at Arizona State University, has been fighting for the reinstatement of the early voting location since it was removed in 2018 by Pima County Recorder Ann Rodriguez. The Pascua Yaqui reservation has slightly more than 4,000 residents.

“The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is disappointed in today’s ruling, but we believed that this case needed to be brought on behalf of our voting members,” said Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chairman Peter S. Yucupicio. “Pascua Yaqui voters’ voices deserve to be heard – whether it’s one vote or a thousand votes.”

“The Tribe is committed to ensuring that our voters cast their votes,” said Pascua Paqui Tribe Councilwoman Herminia Frias. “Although that won’t be at our early voting location this year, our team is preparing outreach to ensure that our voters have a voting plan.”

 “The Pima County Recorder’s decision not to reinstate an early voting site on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation has left Yaqui voters behind,” said Danielle Lang, co-director, voting rights at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “The court heard stories from Tribal Council representatives and Tribal members, who described the hardships they face without equal access to early voting, and it is clear that the Tribe does not have equal access to voting that their white neighbors enjoy. By deciding not to intervene, the court failed to protect a community that is simply fighting for equality.”  

“While today’s decision upholds an unnecessary and irresponsible barrier to the ballot for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the fight does not end here,” said Alex Gulotta, All Voting is Local Arizona state director. “Yaqui voters deserve the same access to safe and secure voting options as all other voters in the state, and should not need to choose between their health and their right to vote. We’ll continue to support the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, in this current election and beyond, to ensure voters can safely cast their ballots in the ways that work best for them.”

“We are disappointed that the Court did not reinstate an early voting site on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation,” said Mary O’Grady, partner at Osborn Maledon. “Despite the lack of an early voting site, we hope that all Tribal members will find a way to safely exercise their right to vote in the coming election so their voices can be heard.”

Arizona’s history with discrimination against Native Americans is well-documented. The Arizona Constitution barred Native Americans from voting in state elections until 1948 – and literacy tests and other barriers existed for decades afterwards. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has advocated for the reinstatement of the early voting location in every election since Rodriguez removed the site weeks before the 2018 election. Before filing suit, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe won support for an early voting site from the Tucson mayor, the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, as well as voting rights advocates.