Some Native Americans Have to Travel 270 Miles to Vote in Nevada

A sign off Highway 379 marks the entrance to Duckwater, Nev. (Credit: David Montero / Los Angeles Times)

A sign off Highway 379 marks the entrance to Duckwater, Nev. (Credit: David Montero / Los Angeles Times)

Highway 379 turns to gravel here, white and dusty, narrowing until it disappears into the craggy mountains off in the distance. Hang a right before the pavement ends and a skinny road veers toward the center of this tiny town.

They’re used to remoteness here on the Duckwater Shoshone reservation in Nye County. Its residents recently got a laundromat with seven washing machines. They are still searching for a doctor, but they finally filled two vacant police positions. There’s no restaurants, banks or supermarkets, but there is a gas station — four large tanks propped high on skinny metal legs with a naked nozzle padlocked to the side.

But there is another glaring need in Duckwater and at several other reservations: a reasonably close site for residents to cast ballots. So the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada sued in October and got two sites added to the state’s approximately 435 polling locations. They wrote a letter to the Nevada secretary of state shortly afterward to ask for more but were rejected.

Duckwater was one of those places that didn’t get a site, even though its residents have the longest trek to cast ballots in Nevada  — about 270 miles round trip to vote on election day.

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