Attorneys representing several members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa have filed a new complaint challenging North Dakota’s latest voter ID law. The amended complaint, filed Dec. 13, asks a federal judge to declare House Bill 1369 unconstitutional and prevent it from being implemented, arguing that it violates the national Voting Rights Act. The bill, sponsored by Republican lawmakers, was signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum in late April. The plaintiffs already scored a legal victory in August 2016, when U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland granted a preliminary injunction preventing the state from implementing its voter ID law without some kind of “fail-safe” option that was eliminated by the Legislature in 2013. Voters who didn’t bring a valid identification to the polls in November 2016 were offered affidavits to swear that he or she was a qualified elector.
Seeking to protect the “integrity” of North Dakota elections, legislators passed a new law this year that doesn’t include the affidavit option but instead allows voters without an ID to cast a ballot that’s set aside until they can produce one. An ID that’s out of date could be supplemented with a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or a government-issued check or document.
IDs issued by the state Department of Transportation or a tribal government are valid under the new law. It includes options for those in “special circumstances,” such as living in a long-term care facility.