The Democratic National Committee on Thursday announced it would provide the Montana Democratic Party with a grant for a Native vote coordinator, who will establish partnerships within tribal communities and develop a program to engage Indigenous voters.
The position is made possible through the Democratic National Committee's State Party Innovation Fund grant programs, according to a news release.
Sheila Hogan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said the party is "investing heavily in our rural and tribal communities."
"Our new Native Vote Coordinator will work closely with our Blue Bench program and our Democratic Tribal Committees to engage, train and turn out Native voters in every corner of the state," she said in a statement.
The Montana Democratic Party in 2021 became the first state party in the U.S. to establish a formal role for Native Americans, based on their proportion of the population. Representatives from the seven reservations in Montana and the Little Shell Tribe now have two delegates each at the Montana Democratic Party platform, rules, officers and special nominating conventions, according to a news release.
Despite a history of disenfranchisement, Native Americans in Montana can swing elections.
Indigenous people comprise at least 6.7% of Montana’s population of 1 million. Based on elections, census and county data, Alex Street, associate professor of political science at Carroll College, estimated there were between 25,000 and 30,000 Native Americans in Montana who voted in the 2016 and 2018 federal elections. In 2018, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester won by 17,913 votes, and in 2016, Gov. Steve Bullock won by 19,818 votes. Both victories were within the margin of the Native vote.
'We face adversity'Advocates say new congressional map dilutes the Native vote
Though Republicans dominated statewide races and Montana's three electoral votes went to President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, counties with a majority Native American population largely supported Democratic candidates.
For more information on the Native vote coordinator position, visit: montanademocrats.org/blue-bench-deputy-director-job-description