Native Voters Energized by Restrictive Voter ID Law


Published October 23, 2018

FARGO, N.D. — This weekend, ABC News published a story detailing the possible effects of a strict voter ID law on North Dakota’s Native American populations. Experts believe that the new law, drafted and passed by the Republican legislature in coordination with the Republican Secretary of State, was designed to intentionally disenfranchise native voters by requiring a residential street address.

Aimed at suppressing native voters, the law may end up having the opposite effect. ABC News spoke with a number of prospective voters who suggested that the law may actually drive up turnout in Indian Country, suggesting that their communities were more committed than ever to making their voices heard. On top of that, voting rights groups have redoubled their efforts in the state, creating plans to help distribute valid IDs to voters who lack up-to-date identification.

Read more below:

ABC News: North Dakota Native Americans fight to protect their right to vote after court ruling

  • “I believe and I hope it’s going to have the opposite effect of suppression because the people here are so used to fighting uphill battles against the U.S. government,” he said.
  • “Why would we ever disenfranchise a Native American veteran who only has a P.O. box that everybody knows when they walk into the polling booth, they know exactly who that person is, they know that they’re a North Dakota resident. That’s why we don’t have registration in North Dakota because we don’t have this problem and anyone who says this isn’t about disenfranchising Native Americans is not being honest,” the senator said.
  • The first effort at a voter ID law in North Dakota passed in 2013, within a few months of Heitkamp’s victory. A court win by tribal members prevented the law from taking effect for the 2016 election.
  • Activists have accused Republican legislators and state election officials of erecting barriers to voting for the state’s mostly Democratic Native American population. North Dakota’s two majority-Native American counties both supported Heidi Heitkamp with nearly 80 percent of the vote when she first ran in 2012.
  • “We believe the requirement of a physical, residential property with a street address was intended to disenfranchise Native American voters. To combat the disenfranchisement of our members, we intend to ensure that our members that lack residential street addresses can obtain them so that they may exercise their right to vote,”the statement read.
  • “With this ruling, I think it actually energized more people to go out. They want to be challenged for not voting, I think they’re going to go meet that challenge and I think they’re going get out to the polls. That is our outlook,” Faith said.
  • Faith and other tribal leaders in North Dakota are coordinating ahead of election day to ensure that Native Americans on the state’s five reservations will be able to vote. Four Directions, a Native American voting rights advocacy group, has put forward a proposal agreed to by tribal leaders to help residents secure acceptable forms of ID to present at the polls.
  • “It’s real simple. At the end, you tell them — Standing Rock will vote. Spirit Lake will vote. Turtle Mountain will vote. Sisseton-Wahpeton will vote. All of the tribes are united in ensuring that our tribal members are able to participate in this democratic process.”

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  1. Michael J Madrid 1 year ago
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