Decision to Change Voter ID Requirements on Eve of Election Allowed to Stand
Categories: Civil Rights/ Voting Rights
On October 9, the US Supreme Court denied NARF’s emergency application to stop the State of North Dakota from implementing a discriminatory voter ID law. After the District Court found the law had a disproportionate and discriminatory effect on Native voters, the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion overturning the Court-ordered relief. In so doing, the Eighth Circuit changed the identification laws on the eve of the election and after early voting already had begun. The majority of Supreme Court justices decided to allow the Eighth Circuit decision to stand. However, Justices Ginsburg and Kagan noted in their dissent that:
The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction.
Now, voters in North Dakota may find when they go to the polls in November that the voter ID that they used in the primary just a few months earlier is no longer accepted because it does not include their current residential address. In this case, Native American voters will be especially affected because they often lack residential street addresses because their homes do not have addresses on them by no fault of their own.
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.”
With the Supreme Court decision, and as we head into an election, North Dakota is able to enact a voter identification law that will take away the opportunity to vote for thousands of Native American United States citizens. NARF will continue to fight this law and invites any North Dakotan Native American who encounters problems voting to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.