Men in state government and on the U.S. Supreme Court crippled Native suffrage recently, but women are leading the fight to bring Native votes in record numbers to the polls. Some women are offering rides on Election Day to Natives lacking transportation. Others are filming videos on social media trying to explain what Native people need to prepare for ahead of time. Secretary of State promises to handle address switches from a post office box to a physical address are failing as multiple sources have reported waiting for three weeks to hear back from a county 911 coordinator. On October 9 the U.S. Supreme court voted 6 – 2 to disallow post office boxes as valid addresses to use while voting in North Dakota. All identification papers must have a physical address, which means many Native IDs are useless.
Two of three female Supreme Court justices, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, were the only dissenting votes. Approximately 70,000 state residents lack qualifying IDs and another 18,000 residents do not have supplemental documents that would permit them to vote, according to court documents.
While the Secretary of State’s office has said repeatedly that the intentions behind discontinuing post office box addresses are benign, Natives disagree. In 2016, six members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger claiming disenfranchisement and that the rule violated the federal Voting Rights Act.
A year later state legislation approved House Bill 1333 clarifying that the only valid forms of voter ID were driver’s licenses, state identification cards issued by the Department of Transportation, tribal government official IDs, and a long-term care certificates with registered, and not post office box, addresses.