Appeals court strikes down ID protections for Native North Dakota voters ahead of midterms
This past Monday, a new order by a U.S. federal appeals court will hinder Native Americans’ ability to vote in North Dakota for the upcoming November 2018 elections.
Last year, a group of Native Americans sued North Dakota over a discriminatory voter ID bill that they argued would disproportionately hinder Native voters by requiring residential addresses instead of mailing addresses. Many Native reservations do not have traditional residential addresses and rely on P.O mailing boxes outside of their communities.
In April 2018, a Judge Hovland ruled in favor of Native voters, citing, “public interest in protecting the most cherished right to vote for thousands of Native Americans who currently lack a qualifying ID and cannot obtain one.” Native Americans make up more than 5% of the North Dakotan population, and are a critical voting constituency.
But now the United States 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has just suspended a state court’s ruling.
The appellate court cites that since North Dakota is the only state that does not require voter registration, the state must take additional precautions to avoid any voter fraud.
“If the secretary must accept forms of identification that list only a mailing address, such as a post office box, then voters could cast a ballot in the wrong precinct and dilute the votes of those who reside in the precinct,” the ruling stated.
The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is arguing that the ruling will disproportionately hinder Native voters in the upcoming midterm elections, and do not account for how Native reservations operate.
In an emailed statement to WDAY ABC, Matthew Campbell, an attorney working with Native voters, said they “plan to continue our fight for Native American voters in North Dakota.”