Six Native voters who joined lawsuit will be allowed to vote under judge's order

Six Native voters who joined lawsuit will be allowed to vote under judge's order


Six Native American voters who challenged North Dakota’s voter identification law will be allowed to vote on Tuesday under an order signed Friday by a federal judge.

Attorneys for the voters worked with the state of North Dakota to stipulate that six individuals who were part of a lawsuit against Secretary of State Al Jaeger have the proper documentation to vote next week.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland signed an order adopting the agreement on Friday.

The six individuals joined the Spirit Lake Tribe in suing Jaeger this week over the state’s stricter voter identification law. The plaintiffs sought to block the law from taking effect on North Dakota Indian reservations on Election Day.

On Thursday, Hovland denied the tribe’s emergency motion for relief from the law, saying it would add to the confusion and chaos less than a week before the election. Hovland added that the allegations in the lawsuit gave him great cause for concern.

Tim Purdon, a former U.S. attorney for North Dakota and part of the legal team, said the individuals had the courage to join the federal lawsuit and the attorneys wanted to be sure they could vote.

“This is only six people, but these are six folks who on Monday were afraid they weren't going to be able to vote,” said Purdon, an attorney for Robins Kaplan.

This is the first election in which North Dakota will require voters to show an identification with a residential street address. But street addresses are often not assigned on reservations and many tribal members have post office boxes.

The individuals include a member of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was denied an absentee ballot because the county auditor said his residential street address did not match the one in the North Dakota Department of Transportation database.

Another is a resident of the Standing Rock Reservation but an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and lacked the ability to get the documentation required by North Dakota’s law.

The state of North Dakota has not responded in court to the overall allegations in the lawsuit.

Jaeger emphasized in a press conference Friday that the state’s voter ID law does not restrict North Dakotans who are eligible to vote but strengthens the integrity of the election process.

(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or


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