In one sense, North Dakota’s voting laws are lax as North Dakota is the only state without voter registration requirements. In another sense, North Dakota’s voting laws are anything but lax as a federal district court recently found North Dakota’s voter identification law (also referred to as “HB 1332”) to be unduly burdensome. In his opinion in Brakebill v. Jaeger, District Judge Daniel L. Hovland determined HB 1332 to be unduly burdensome to North Dakota’s Native American population, writing that “[t]he public interest in protecting the most cherished right to vote for thousands of Native Americans who currently lack a qualifying ID and cannot obtain one, outweighs the purported interest and arguments of the State.” Judge Hovland granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against the law, barring North Dakota from enforcing the law (but not striking the law down).
Judge Hovland’s decision was only one of a string of decisions leading up to the 2016 elections that invalidated or halted enforcement of state voter identification laws. Specifically, voter identification laws in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Kansas all met similar fates to North Dakota’s. In some of these cases, including in North Dakota, the fact that the states had no history of voter fraud impacted the decisions to identify the voter identification laws as unduly burdensome.
But North Dakota’s voter identification law involved more than the state not having a history of voter fraud. There are two factors that specifically make the downfall of North Dakota’s voter identification requirements unique in the wake of multiple voter identification laws being determined unconstitutional. First, the unconstitutional burden in the North Dakota case focused on the disenfranchisement of the state’s Native American population. Second, the omission of North Dakota’s previously codified “fail-safe” provisions imposed further burdens on disenfranchised voters that made the law essentially impossible for North Dakota to successfully defend.
Full Article: The Demise of North Dakota’s Voter Identification Law –.