Court Denies Temporary Restraining Order in North Dakota Voter ID Case


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Earlier this week, NARF, Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Robins Kaplan LLP, and Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC brought a case on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe and individual Native American voters in North Dakota likely to be disenfranchised by the state’s recently enacted voter identification law and addressing system. (Read more about Spirit Lake Tribe v. Jaeger and download the case documents.)

As part of that case, plaintiffs requested a temporary restraining order that would stop the requirement for voter identification with the voter’s current residential street address, which already has caused confusion for voters and state administrators.

Today, November 1, 2018, US District Judge Daniel L. Hovland (District of North Dakota) denied the request for relief from the voter identification law. (Download order.)

Judge Hovland agreed with the plaintiffs about the disarray of the current system, and expressed grave concern about the issues of voter disenfranchisement raised in the Spirit Lake Tribe’s complaint saying, “The litany of problems identified in this new lawsuit were clearly predictable and certain to occur as the Court noted in its previous orders in Brakebill v. Jaeger.”  (Read more about the Brakebill case.)

However, despite these concerns, Judge Hovland declined to take action in the case with the election less than a week away fearing that any court order at this time would create even more confusion and chaos on the eve of the election.

While today’s decision is disappointing, NARF and CLC are considering the available options and will continue working to ensure all natives in North Dakota have proper documentation and the ability to exercise their right to vote.

NOTE TO VOTERS IN NORTH DAKOTA: Native Americans in North Dakota should show up to vote with their identifications. If the poll worker denies them their right to vote because of the residential address requirement, they should demand a set-aside ballot and immediately contact their community leaders for assistance.

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