Programs affiliated with Native American tribes provide free IDs in North Dakota

Programs affiliated with Native American tribes provide free IDs in North Dakota
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Multiple Native American tribes in North Dakota have launched programs to provide tribal members with free ID cards ahead of the midterm elections, according to a new Associated Press report.

The Standing Rock Sioux, Spirit Lake Sioux, Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Three Affiliated Tribes have all launched programs that have successfully given free IDs to thousands of Native Americans, the news service reported.

Together, the programs have disseminated a total of more than 2,000 IDs. 

A Supreme Court ruling earlier this month upheld North Dakota rules that require voters to provide identification with street addresses. This rule would have disenfranchised around 5,000 Native Americans who did not psossess a qualifying voter ID under state rules, the AP reported. 

Voting rights activists in the state say knowing one's address is not particularly important in Native American culture. Many tribal members in the state either don't know their home address, don't have one, or can't afford to get an updated ID.

The Lakota People's Law Project and the Four Directions nonprofit have helped to coordinate the dissemination of free IDs with proper street addresses to people who did not previously have them ahead of the November elections, the AP reported. The groups say the new Supreme Court ruling and state rules amount to voter suppression of Native people.

"We're at our best in crisis," Phyllis Young, an organizer for the Lakota People's Law Project, told the AP. "[This] is only making us more aware of our rights, more energized, and more likely to vote this November."

The effort comes as Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE (D) is seeking to defend her seat against a strong challenge from Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerDem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches North Dakota New Members 2019 Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues MORE (R). 

A recent poll found Heitkamp trailing Kramer by 16 points.