Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 in Featured

Native Rights Organization Seeks to Overturn North Dakota’s Discriminatory Voter ID Law

Native Rights Organization Seeks to Overturn North Dakota’s Discriminatory Voter ID Law

On December 13, 2017, the Native American Rights Fund again brought action against the state of North Dakota seeking to overturn North Dakota’s newest discriminatory voter ID law. NARF filed an amended complaint on behalf of Native American Plaintiffs impacted by the discriminatory law. Last year, NARF fought on behalf of Native American Plaintiffs to enjoin enforcement of North Dakota’s voter ID law, which disproportionately prevented Native Americans from exercising their right to vote. In that action, the judge held the law likely violated the U.S. Constitution because it disproportionately kept Native Americans from voting.

In light of this defeat, the legislature amended their law earlier this year, but the new law failed to include meaningful protections for voters’ rights. Today, Plaintiffs Richard Brakebill, Dorothy Herman, Della Merrick, Elvis Norquay, Ray Norquay, and Lucille Vivier amended their suit, which now challenges this recently enacted voter ID law, HB 1369. HB 1369 perpetuates voter suppression tactics by requiring every voter to possess a narrowly prescribed form of ID. The Legislature passed these provisions despite knowing they would suppress the Native American vote. As NARF Staff Attorney Matt Campbell explains, “The North Dakota legislature was fully aware the impact this law would have on the Native population in North Dakota. Yet, they passed the law anyway.”

Fighting voter suppression has never been more timely or important. This year, North Dakota reduced the hours of the Drivers License Site—where voter IDs can be obtained—that is closest to Plaintiffs. That Site now operates the most restrictive hours of any location; it is open for less than five hours one day a month. There is not a single Driver’s License Site on an Indian reservation in North Dakota. Native Americans on the Lake Traverse Reservation, Fort Berthold Reservation, and Standing Rock Reservations have to travel an average of almost an hour just to access a Drivers License Site, some of which are open for very limited hours.

NARF will continue to fight against these unconstitutional laws that insult the very fiber of our democracy. The government should not create unnecessary obstacles for qualified citizens to vote. And we, as a nation, must fight to ensure that every American is given the opportunity to vote in every election.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Native American Rights Fund, Richard de Bodo of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and Tom Dickson of the Dickson Law Office.