Tribes file agreement resolving North Dakota voter ID suit

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 9:40 PM CDT
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Two American Indian tribes filed an agreement Friday with North Dakota resolving a lawsuit over requiring residents of reservations to provide a street address when voting.

Native Americans argued the requirement under the state’s voter ID law was a form of voter suppression since street addresses are not always evident on reservations. State officials argued that not requiring street addresses could lead to voter fraud and people voting in the wrong district.

North Dakota reached the proposed settlement with the Spirit Lake Nation and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in February. The consent decree will be in force for the statewide primary on June 9.

“This is a sweeping victory for Native American voting rights, and one that should send a message to other states looking to impose restrictive voting measures that disenfranchise historically marginalized groups,” said Paul Smith, vice president of Campaign Legal Center, which represented the two tribes along with the Native American Rights Fund.

Under the settlement, Native American voters who do not have or know their residential street address can locate their residence on a map at the polls to have their ballots counted. When applying for an absentee ballot, those voters will be provided with their address by county officials.