The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) submitted testimony last week on proposed changes to North Dakota’s voting procedures. In early 2016, NARF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Native American voters in North Dakota challenging the state’s strict voter ID law as unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act because it abridges the voting rights of many Native American voters.

The Federal District Court granted NARF’s request for a preliminary injunction and required the state to provide a “fail-safe” mechanism so that those without a qualifying ID could vote in the 2016 election. Importantly, the court found “the lack of any current ‘fail-safe’ provisions in the North Dakota Century Code to be unacceptable and violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.”

A bill introduced in the North Dakota legislature in January 2017 would amend North Dakota’s election law, keeping strict voter ID requirements in place but adding options for provisional ballots, which the state previously did not allow. NARF’s testimony pointed out that the legislative proposal does not provide fail-safe mechanisms required by the federal court. Without this, Native American voting rights will continue to be abridged by the state.

The right to vote and select candidates of choice is a fundamental right in any democracy. NARF is committed to ensuring this right is preserved for all Native Americans. Read more about the new North Dakota voter ID law and NARF’s fight against these types of unconstitutional laws that insult the very fiber of our democracy.


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