Home Opinion North Dakota Voter Registration Law

North Dakota Voter Registration Law


Early October, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow North Dakota’s new voter ID requirements to go into effect just before the U.S. Midterm elections. Many view this new law as discriminatory towards Native Americans in the state. Due to this new law, Natives in the state may come to find out that the ID’s they used during the Primary elections are no longer valid for the Midterm elections.
This may cause difficulties for many people in the state, but mostly Native Americans due to their lack of residential street addresses. A majority of Natives just use their PO Boxes as their address because they have no official, physical address and never really needed one. But now, they are required to have one in order to vote and people are not happy.
According to NARF Staff Attorney Jacqueline De León, “Access to voting should not be dependent on whether one lives in a city or on a reservation. The District Court in North Dakota has found this voter identification law to be discriminatory; nothing in the law has changed since that finding. North Dakota Native American voters will now have to vote under a system that unfairly burdens them more than other voters. We will continue to fight this discriminatory law.”
In opposition and resiliency the Standing Rock tribe has set up a special hotline (701-854-VOTE) and can instantly create new, free Tribal ID Cards with residential street addresses. But they, like other tribes, need to get the IDs into people’s hands. In order to do so, they launched a GoFundMe page to pay for transporting tribal members to the polls, purchasing ID cards for tribal members, and filing voting information paperwork. By Monday night, they had raised $125,000 of their $200,000 goal. Activists are also traveling all around every reservation trying to inform everyone about the current situation on voter ID, pushing them to get their Tribal IDs changed to have a physical address on it.
“Voter suppression is a very real thing,” said Standing Rock activist Chase Iron Eyes. Republicans have now gone so far that “they’re trying so hard to suppress it. When you suppress a people, they rise.” And that almost seems to be what is happening. Instead of suppressing the Natives who do vote, they’ve aggregated every Native in the state, pushing them all to find a way vote.
Now, on the Eve of Halloween, the Native American Rights Fund, the Campaign Legal Center and two law firms have filed a new lawsuit claiming the new voting system is “incomplete, contradictory and prone to error on reservations.” All of which are valid points. Hopefully the third time’s a charm.