SCOTUS Upholds Voter ID Law That Will Disproportionately Harm Native Americans

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).

North Dakota's voter ID law was upheld by the Supreme Court to the potential detriment of Native Americans.

A North Dakota voter ID law that will adversely impact its Native American population was granted approval by the Supreme Court this week, causing many to worry that tens of thousands of voters will be disenfranchised.

Via CNN:

> The law requires voters to provide a form of identification that includes their legal name, current street address and date of birth. The problem, for some Native Americans, is the street address requirement. Native Americans who live on reservations or in rural areas that lack street addresses often instead use P.O. boxes.

>

> Rates of homelessness are also higher among the Native American population. North Dakota's law allows voters to use other forms of identification, like pay stubs or utility bills.

>

> "Why is it getting harder and harder for Native Americans to vote? This law clearly discriminates against Native Americans in North Dakota," Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith said in a press release. "Our voices should be heard and they should be heard fairly at the polls just like all other Americans."

CNN said the law was passed after Senator Heidi Heitkamp became the lone Democratic elected official in the state — due in no small part to Native American support.

> The court's decision came as Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's Republican challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, attempts to put the race away. Polls have shown him with a near double-digit lead. Republicans are also pointing to Heitkamp's vote against Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation in an effort to turn out conservative voters in the deep-red state that President Donald Trump won by 36 percentage points in 2016.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, that the court’s decision has the potential to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters out of only about 600,000 eligible voters statewide.

> She pointed to a district court's finding that "70,000 North Dakota residents -- almost 20% of the turnout in a regular quadrennial election -- lack a qualifying ID" and that "approximately 18,000 North Dakota residents also lack supplemental documentation sufficient to permit them to vote without a qualifying ID."

>

> Because an injunction prohibiting the law's enforcement was in place during North Dakota's primary election, the rules will have changed in next month's general election. "Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election," Ginsburg wrote.

Comments