Native American residents of North Dakota have been left scrambling to meet a controversial voter ID requirement that could render many ineligible to vote in the upcoming November mid-term elections. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to overturn the GOP-backed voter law, which requires North Dakotans to show identification with their current street address. As many Native American reservations do not use physical street addresses, the law makes it difficult for thousands of people to cast their ballots. While Native American residents do often use PO boxes as mailing addresses, PO boxes do not qualify as proof of residency under the voter ID law. As a result, many voters will have to make the effort to obtain identification or documents, such as a tribal voting letter issued by tribal officials, that provide proof of a residential address.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out that as many as 70,000 residents, including many non-Native Americans, could be at risk of being unable to vote in November due to the requirement.
The Supreme Court’s decision to not overturn the law, Ginsburg warned, “may lead to voters finding out at the polling place that they cannot vote because their formerly valid ID is now insufficient.”
Democratic North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who faces a difficult race against Republican rival Kevin Cramer, has said that the rule is tantamount to voter suppression as it hinders Native Americans in the state—who have largely been found to vote in favor of Democrats—from casting their ballots in the upcoming election.