Voting rights organizations are making a final push to get out the vote with just a week to go until the midterm elections. In North Dakota, those efforts have taken on greater urgency because a new voter ID law will be in effect come Nov. 6. Tribes and advocacy groups are on a mission to overcome longstanding obstacles that have hindered Native Americans’ right to vote and ensure their communities have access to the ballot box. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court decided that it would allow North Dakota’s voter ID law to stand. That means voters will be required to present identification showing their street addresses when they vote at their polling place. There’s one glaring problem with that requirement: Native Americans who live on reservations in North Dakota don’t necessarily have street addresses. They typically use P.O. boxes instead, which are listed on their IDs.
Phyllis Young, a longtime activist and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, tells Bustle that she is “not devastated by this court decision.” Young, who fought on the front lines for her tribe on other issues like the Dakota Access Pipeline, says the voter ID law is just further evidence of U.S. institutions systematically stripping away the rights of Native Americans.
“I believe that our people are the best in crisis,” Young says, pointing to the effect that the voter ID law will have on her community. “[This ID law] — they’re bringing out the best in our people.”