Voter Suppression in North Dakota Could Be Backfiring on Republicans

Mother Jones

When the Supreme Court upheld North Dakota’s strict voter ID law in early October, weeks before the midterm election, there were widespread fears it could lead to significant voter disenfranchisement in the state. Seventy thousand registered voters, including 5,000 Native Americans, lacked the new IDs required by the state, according to a district court. 

The law appeared to be written by Republicans to target Native Americans in North Dakota, since it required that an ID contain a “residential street address” on it, but many Native Americans in the state live on tribal reservations and get their mail at P.O. boxes. 

At the Spirit Lake Reservation in central North Dakota, Danielle Lang, a voting rights lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center who challenged the voter ID law in court, saw similar evidence of high turnout. “The IDs are being accepted,” she says. “Turnout seemed high.” She says that as of 3 p.m., 400 people had voted at the Fort Totten polling place; the record there was 480 people in 2008, a presidential election year.

She agreed that the law had led to a backlash among Native Americans, making them more inspired to vote. “Native Americans are refusing to be silenced regardless of this voter suppression,” she says.

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