Native American Voter Project to hold Early Voting Day event Thursday

The Riverton Peace Mission’s Native American Voter Project will host an Early Voting Day event this Thursday, Oct. 20, in an effort to engage more local residents in the election process – especially younger voters.

The group visited the Arapaho Charter High School this week, asking students ages 18 and older to commit to participating in the event.

“We had 10 students from there (who) committed,” NAVP organizer and Arapaho school board chair Leslie Spoonhunter said Wednesday. “They are so excited.”

For young adults, Spoonhunter said voting for the first time is like a “rite of passage” – at least that’s how she felt when she turned 18 and cast her first election ballot.

“I really wanted to get my voice heard,” Spoonhunter said. “I thought that was important.”

When she had kids of her own, Spoonhunter said she made sure to teach them about the importance of voting as well.

“They were first-time voters in the last couple of elections,” she said. “It was so exciting.”

Now, she is working with the NAVP to inspire more young voters to cast ballots of their own – even if they don’t participate in Early Voting Day this week.

“We’re hoping to reach out to the other county high schools who potentially have other 18-year-olds in schools so we can get them excited to go vote,” Spoonhunter said. “We’re doing some canvassing as well, going door-to-door to make sure everybody gets out to vote.”

People who want to participate in Early Voting Day this week should meet at 8:45 a.m. Thursday at the 789 Smokeshop south of Riverton, where the Wind River Native Advocacy Center will have a van available to provide transportation.

Spoonhunter said the group will drive together to the Arapaho Charter High School to meet up with the student voters there before heading to the Fremont County Clerk’s Office in Lander to cast their ballots.

She reminded participants who have not yet registered to vote to bring the necessary identification along.

The Early Voting Day event will end with a free lunch in the Carnegie Room at the Lander Library, 200 Amoretti Street.

“We’re going to plan for some food afterwards just to thank people for voting,” Spoonhunter said. “And we just want to de-brief with whoever is willing and able.”

The gathering should be over by noon, she said, encouraging “everybody to get out and vote” in this year’s election and “make your voice heard.”

For more information call Spoonhunter at 240-7834.

Native American Voter Project co-organizers Mercedes Harris, left, and Leslie Spoonhunter staffed an informational booth last week at the Indigenous Land Alliance’s Halloween Masquerade in Riverton. h/t Riverton Peace Mission

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