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Judge Blocks Native Americans’ Request to Stop North Dakota Voter ID Law

Voter ID
An election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas. AP / Eric Gay, File

A federal judge shot down a request that would prevent North Dakota’s strict voter ID law, which requires voters have a street address, from applying to Tuesday’s midterm elections, claiming that it would cause confusion, NBC News reports.

The law presents challenges to Native Americans in the state who don’t have street addresses but have used post office boxes to get their mail, which was acceptable for them to vote in past elections.

“The federal courts are unanimous in their judgment that it is highly important to preserve the status quo when elections are fast approaching,” wrote U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in his motion.

Hovland said that the Spirit Lake Tribe, which asked for the emergency request, presented a “great cause for concern” but that the decision requires “a detailed response from the Secretary of State as this case proceeds,” per ABC News.

“The litany of problems identified in this new lawsuit were clearly predictable and certain to occur as the court noted in its previous orders,” he added.

Critics have decried the street address requirement, claiming it disenfranchised Native American tribes. Under the law, according to NBC News, they will have to get “state-issued or tribal identification” that has a street address.

Studies conducted by Native American rights groups have shown that around 35 percent of the population do not have identification with a residential address, ABC News reports.

“While we are disappointed with the order, Judge Hovland was correct that the evidence indicates that disenfranchisement will be ‘certain.’ We are considering our options,” Corey Goldstone, a spokesman for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit which represented some of the plaintiffs, told NBC.

In October, in a 6-2 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision that enforced the address requirement.

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