October 26, 2020

Early voting begins in the Tohono O'odham Nation, polling place locations

Historical knowledge is key to knowing where to go to vote on Election Day in the nation.

ncai-stickers Election materials promoting Native American voting advocacy, 2019.

Early voting in the Tohono O'odham Nation begins Monday, with Election Day polling places to open at district offices.

For voters living in the nation who are looking to vote in-person or drop off their mail-in ballots before Election Day, early voting in Sells will be at the Toka Community Building Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Emergency voting at the site will be help Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. If voters across the reservation approximately the size of Connecticut want to wait to vote till Nov. 3, there may be a voting location closer to them on Election Day.

"Out on the [Tohono] O'odham Nation here in Pima County area, the polling places have not changed in the 20 years that I've been here, and the polling places have historically been through those 20 years the district offices for wherever the particular voter my live," said Brad Nelson, the elections director for Pima County.

The 2.8 million acre Tohono O'odham Nation is broken down into 11 districts that range across Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties.

Street address are not the norm in the nation. Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said in a September Arizona State Museum webinar that giving directions to one's home is dependent on landmarks.

"If you go past that hill that is about two miles down the road, there's going to be a road there that's going to go to the south. Go down that road and pass another two hills — or whatever the direction is — and my house is kind of in the back behind another hill," said Norris.

For voters who have street addresses, it's easy to use Pima County's polling location search to identify their polling place, districts and precinct.

"Polling places, if you will, are easy to find [in the nation] because they are the district offices, and also they do not change," said Nelson.

Nelson said when voters living in other rural Pima County communities register to vote they can get a street address "assigned" to them to identify their districts and therefore their polling place.

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