As North Dakota’s Republican-controlled government has in effect admitted, North Dakota Democrats were right about the need for a special session. The governor rejected the Democrats’ call earlier this year, but the state’s deteriorating finances prompted him to change his mind. The special session begins next week. But North Dakota Democrats now have been proven right on a second key issue: the claim that North Dakota’s new Voter ID law is too restrictive. The verdict on that question is in, having been rendered by federal courts in both Texas and Wisconsin and forcing both states to put new procedures in place before November. News flash: North Dakota’s Voter ID law is more restrictive and allows for fewer options than either the Texas or Wisconsin laws. That means it almost certainly violates federal law, and will unconstitutionally block voting among key groups of North Dakotans in November—unless it is changed.
Which lawmakers should do, taking advantage of the special session to give voters who lack an ID the chance to get a ballot by signing an affidavit. That’s the outcome the federal judge in Wisconsin is mandating. It’s the likely outcome in Texas, too.
And it should be the outcome in North Dakota as well. As federal courts—including conservative-dominated courts, such as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas case—are declaring, the critics are right on these laws, and the supporters are wrong: Strict Voter ID laws do, in fact, disproportionately hurt key voting blocs.