Federal Judge Rejects Last-ditch Effort to Block North Dakota Voter Suppression Law

Tribal officials in North Dakota maintain the state’s new voter ID law that requires a physical address on ID discriminates against American Indians living on reservations where the U.S. Postal delivers only to P.O. boxes.

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Published November 2, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D.  — Citing the short time until next Tuesday’s midterm election, Federal District Judge Daniel L. Hovland ruled in a brief, two-page order on Thursday he would not block North Dakota’s requirement that voters have a residential address. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by the Native American Rights Fund on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe and several American Indians living in North Dakota.

At issue is the law passed by the majority Republican legislature that requires voters to have a physical address on their IDs when voting versus having simply a post office box number. The problem is on some rural American Indian reservation, particularly those in North Dakota, the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver to residential addresses. Therefore, American Indians on their state-issued IDs, such as drivers’ licenses, personal IDs and tribal card use P.O. box numbers.

Tribal leaders in North Dakota maintain the law is an attempt to suppress the Native vote in the state.

The lawsuit presented several incidences where North Dakota American Indians could not obtain absentee ballots because their physical addresses were not in the state’s database.

In his order, the judge the allegations contained within the lawsuit give the court “great cause for concern” that will require “a detailed response” from the state’s secretary of state. Issuing an order this close to the election would cause “much confusion,” Hovland said.

“In this case, early voting has already begun,” Hovland wrote. “Election Day is less than one week away.”

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  1. Michael Madrid 12 months ago
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