Court Battles

Supreme Court allows North Dakota to enforce voter ID laws

Greg Nash

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to toss out an appeals court order that allows North Dakota to enforce its voter ID requirement during the 2018 elections.

The request to toss out the order came from a group of Native American residents who are challenging a new state law that requires voters to present identification that includes a current residential street address.

{mosads}The challengers argued the new rule disenfranchises a disproportionate share of the population because many Native American voters live on reservations without standard addresses.  

The District Court agreed and temporarily blocked the North Dakota secretary of state from enforcing the new requirements during the primary elections, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that court order last month.

The challengers asked the Supreme Court in an urgent request submitted to Justice Neil Gorsuch to toss out the 8th Circuit stay, arguing it has left thousands of Native American voters unable to cast ballots, but the court denied the request without explanation.  

The court’s newest member, Brett Kavanaugh, did not take part in the decision.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Elena Kagan joined.

Ginsburg said she would have granted the challenger’s request. She said last-minute court orders affecting elections, especially conflicting orders, can result in voter confusion and keep people from turning out to the polls.

“The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction,” Ginsburg said. 

“Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.”

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