Court Battles

Native American tribe sues to stop voter ID requirement in North Dakota

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The Spirit Lake Sioux tribe in North Dakota has filed a lawsuit aiming to prevent the state from enforcing its voter ID requirement in next week’s midterms, arguing that it will disenfranchise voters living on reservations, according to media reports.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court and seek to have a law requiring voters to present ID with a current residential street address ruled unconstitutional. 

{mosads} Native Americans have said the law will disproportionately affect them because many Native American voters live on reservations without traditional addresses. 

Danielle Lang, a senior attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, told the Associated Press that the state’s policies should “make it easier for all citizens to vote, but North Dakota’s voter ID law disenfranchises Native Americans living on reservations.”

The Campaign Legal Center also signed onto the lawsuit, according to AP.

“We have a choice between a democracy that includes all eligible voters and a system that excludes people based on their circumstances or backgrounds,” Lang added.

“Unless the court steps in, eligible Native American voters including our clients may be denied the right to vote next week due to the state’s deeply flawed system of assigning and verifying voters’ residential addresses.”

The District Court previously agreed with the challengers to the law and temporarily blocked the North Dakota secretary of state from enforcing the ID requirements during the primaries. 

But the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that order in September and last month the Supreme Court refused to throw out the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Several tribes in North Dakota have recently launched programs to supply members with free IDs ahead of next week’s midterm, according to the AP.

North Dakota’s elections will feature a high-profile Senate race between incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Republican challenger Rep. Kevin Cramer. Recent polling has shown Cramer leading in the race by as many as 16 points.

Tags Heidi Heitkamp Kevin Cramer
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