The state of North Dakota has asked a federal judge to speed up his review in the ongoing battle over its voter identification laws as a statewide election draws closer. In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in North Dakota Friday, March 9, an attorney for the state noted that the primary election is just three months away. Moreover, absentee and mail-in ballots for that election can be submitted as early as April 27. Deputy Solicitor General James Nicolai wrote that “timely resolution of the pending motions brought by both sides is necessary for proper planning by election officials.” He asked U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland to “resolve this matter at the earliest possible time.”
The motion comes more than two years after seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued Secretary of State Al Jaeger over voter ID changes the Republican-led Legislature passed in 2013 and 2015. They argued the changes, including eliminating affidavits that voters used to swear their eligibility, disenfranchised Native Americans.
Hovland in 2016 ordered the state to supply affidavits to voters who couldn’t provide an ID at the polls. State lawmakers passed a new law last year that supporters said addressed the lawsuit, and the state later asked the judge to lift the order requiring it to provide a “fail-safe” option.