Sioux County midterm voter turnout makes tribal members proud

SIOUX COUNTY, N.D. - The number of voters who hit the polls in Sioux County was higher than the 2016 presidential election year.

The Secretary of State’s office shows North Dakota had a larger number of voter turnout across the state this Midterm Election in comparison to the last.

The Sioux County Auditor, Barb Hettich says the county had 1,464 overall voters this election. She says in the 2016 presidential election, which usually has more turnout, they had 1,257.

To put it into perspective, last midterm election the county had less than half the amount of voters from this year.

Signs posted all over the reservation encouraging people to vote. The people we spoke to in Fort Yates say the momentum started with the voter ID situation but the momentum to vote continued because of the support they had with one another.

“We all came together as one,” said Jenny Ghost Bear, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

It was an all hands on deck operation at this yellow house in Fort Yates to get as many voters to the polls as possible.

Standing Rock member Elizabeth Standing Crow said: "First time I voted in like 15 years and I felt amazing or powerful or something. I was like, I want to vote again!"

Hundreds unifying to have their voices heard.

"We're gonna continue to stand. And what really made proud is that we all came together as a big family and community of the nation here," said Ghost Bear.

They say they're just a grain of salt in the bigger conversation across the country with voting rights for Native Americans.

"The feeling here is not of sadness, or defeat, or loss. There's too much positive energy that we built up, that we're excited about the future," said Phyllis Young, field coordinator for Get Out to Vote in Standing Rock.

She says this momentum helps people in the reservation get motivated to eventually run for office in their community, statewide, and perhaps one day nationally.

The many people we spoke to say they're proud of the voter turnout but they say this is just the beginning and this was a test run for the 2020 election.