Eighth Circuit Upholds North Dakota Voter ID Law

Courthouse News Service,  August 1, 2019

"The Eighth Circuit ruled Wednesday that a North Dakota law requiring voter identification is constitutional, vacating a statewide injunction put in place after Native American voters argued the law caused voter suppression.

The original complaint was filed by six members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians who claimed the ID law was a constitutional violation and placed “excessively burdensome requirements” on Native American voters.

Under the law, North Dakota residents must present an approved form of identification before they can receive a ballot. The rule states that valid identification requires a voter’s current residential street address.

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In 2013, the state enacted a law that created a list of types of identification a voter can use to obtain a ballot. That list was further limited in 2015 and once again in 2017, when the requirement was changed to a “valid form of identification,” which North Dakota Century Code defines as a driver’s license or identification card issued by the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

An exception to the rule exists where a voter can still cast a ballot with a supplemental document such as a utility bill or a bank statement.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland found that nearly 5,000 otherwise eligible voting Native Americans lacked proper identification as defined by the state to vote. Of those 5,000, approximately 49% also lacked supplemental voting documentation. However, these numbers did not fully reflect individuals that may attempt to procure the required documents according to Circuit Judge Steven Colloton."

 

By Levi Lass

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