After altering voter identification laws in previous legislative sessions, North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature now is attempting to fix them after a group of American Indians sued in federal court, alleging the state requirements are unconstitutional and disenfranchised tribal members. The House passed a bill Monday that allows those who don’t have proper ID to cast a ballot that’s set aside until the voter’s eligibility is confirmed. The Senate still must agree to the measure before it goes to GOP Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature. Before 2013, a voter could sign an affidavit attesting to his or her eligibility to vote in the precinct but the Legislature removed that provision. Some members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued last year, alleging the reworked state requirements are unconstitutional and robbed tribal members of their right to vote.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland last year blocked the new law from taking effect, and just weeks before last November’s general election, essentially reinstated the affidavit provision to allow voters who don’t have a state-required ID to cast a ballot by signing an affidavit swearing they are a qualified voter.
The case is still pending in federal court. Attorneys for the tribal members did not return repeated telephone calls on Monday seeking comment.