North Dakota has asked a federal judge to dismiss a Native American tribe’s lawsuit challenging the state’s voter identification requirements, saying in part that tribal members named in the complaint weren’t impeded from voting on Election Day. The attorney general’s office in a Monday filing also argued that the state is immune from such lawsuits in U.S. District Court and that the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe doesn’t have standing to sue for several reasons, including that it’s unclear how the tribe might be affected by the inability of any members to vote. Even if that were clear, attorneys said, the tribe “is not representing the interests of all of its members, merely a select few.”
The lawsuit filed in late October by the Spirit Lake Sioux on behalf of itself and six tribal members came in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 general election. It was part of a larger effort to ensure that members of all North Dakota tribes could vote following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that month in a similar lawsuit filed by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
Justices allowed the state to continue requiring voters to show identification with a provable street address, as opposed to addresses such as post office boxes that many reservation residents have long relied on. However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent that “the risk of voter confusion appears severe here.”