Oct. 12 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to intervene in a challenge to North Dakota’s voter ID law, allowing it to remain in effect for next month’s key midterm elections.
The state’s law says voters must show a valid government-issued identification with their current residential address to cast a ballot. The law was challenged by Native Americans on the basis that many homes on reservations lack standard residential street addresses.
In April, a federal judge blocked North Dakota from enforcing that portion of the law for the primary votes, but the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ultimately removed the lower court’s order in September.
Attorneys for the Native American plaintiffs filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to stay the 8th Circuit court’s decision. The high court, though, declined.
“North Dakota Native American voters will now have to vote under a system that unfairly burdens them more than other voters,” Native American Rights Fund attorney Jacqueline De León said in a statement Thursday. “Access to voting should not be dependent on whether one lives in a city or on a reservation.”
The North Dakota law allows voters to show a valid driver’s license or state-issued ID. Native Americans can also present a tribal government-issued ID that includes their name, date of birth and residential address. If the ID card does not include an address, prospective voters can also show recent mail received at that person’s address.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that the appeals court decision to enforce the law may cause confusion for some who voted in the April primaries without the restrictions and are unaware of the change.
“The injunction against requiring residential address identification was in force during the primary election and because the [North Dakota] secretary of state’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction,” Ginsburg wrote. “Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.”