Judge Tells N. Dakota: Voter ID Law Goes Too Far

Requirement Worked to Shut Out Native American Voters

State "has failed to demonstrate any evidence of voter fraud in the past or present," Judge Daniel Hovland writes.

A federal judge in North Dakota has upbraided state officials for imposing voter identification requirements that appear to have been crafted with an eye toward depriving Native Americans in the state of their voting rights.

The Associated Press reports that an order issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland asserted that the state had raised “a litany of embellished concerns” about the possibility that an earlier Hovland ruling relaxing voter ID requirements could lead to voter fraud.

“The reality is (the state) has failed to demonstrate any evidence of voter fraud in the past or present,” Hovland wrote.

Last month, the judge struck down a portion of North Dakota law that required each prospective voter to furnish documents listing his or her street addresses. Many of the state’s nearly 40,000 Native American residents live on reservations where they often do not have a numbered street address; Tom Dickson, a lawyer for tribe members who brought the suit, said the state requirement was an attempt to deny those voters their rights.

Judge Hovland’s order suggested lawyers, the tribes and the state “sit down for one day and create workable and reasonable solutions so that all homeless persons, and all persons who live on Native American reservations in North Dakota, can have a meaningful opportunity to vote?

“Solutions can be achieved with little effort and minimal expense,” the judge added.


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