Native American tribe sues North Dakota for voter suppression
© WikiMedia (Tom Arthur)

Native American tribe sues North Dakota for voter suppression

The Spirit Lake Sioux tribe on Tuesday filed suit against the state of North Dakota to ensure that eligible Native American voters residing on reservations in North Dakota will be able to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections and in all future elections.

Under current law, North Dakotans cannot vote unless they have identification that shows their name, birth date and residential address. The suit claims that the “current implementation of North Dakota’s proof of residential address imposes a severe impediment to their right to vote.”

Voters whose state issued or tribal IDs list what they know to be their current residential address have had their absentee ballots rejected as having “invalid” addresses. This problem threatens hundreds if not thousands more on Election Day. And Native Americans uniquely lack access to supplemental documentation to satisfy the State’s requirement.

Many Native Americans also have no residential address because the government has not assigned them one. Rarely are road signs available in rural areas of reservations, many roads in North Dakota have been assigned multiple, conflicting names, and many homes have been assigned conflicting numbers.

NARF Staff Attorney Matthew Campbell stated, “The state has pushed through a voter identification system that is confusing and in disarray. … Figuring out the state’s peculiar listings for residential addresses on reservations should not be a pre-requisite to voting, and the Native American Rights Fund is committed to fighting these discriminatory policies.”

The lawsuit is brought by the Native American Rights Fund, Campaign Legal Center, Robins Kaplan LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC.