Opinion

Ruth Hopkins: North Dakota voter law threatens Native rights





Ruth Hopkins on a voter identification law in North Dakota:
Voter ID laws are controversial because many believe they disenfranchise legitimate elderly, student, and minority voters. Discouraging even a small percentage of citizens from casting their vote at the ballot box could sway any election, particularly in a hotly-contested race. North Dakota’s electoral landscape is relatively unique, too. Our voting population is much smaller. We have only one U.S. House Representative. Right now, that’s Kevin Cramer.

While supporters say Voter ID laws are necessary to combat voter fraud, studies show the “problem” is virtually non-existent. One analysis by News21 identified only 10 cases of voter fraud out of 2, 068 alleged cases- which equates to only 1 out of every 15 million prospective voters.

When asked if she thought there’s a possible connection between Cramer’s recent verbal barrage against Native Americans in North Dakota and the sudden push for new Voter ID laws in the state, Melissa Merrick says, “When I spoke up against the Congressman, I knew there may be consequences for speaking the truth. What I didn’t foresee was the fear of the others in the room-so much so that they were afraid to publicly confirm the Congressman’s actions. They were afraid of being attacked by the media as they watched me being attacked. They were also afraid of losing funding if they spoke up. I did not think that there would be any sort of backlash because it seemed to be focused on me. Tribes issued statements calling for a meeting with the Cramer and asking for an apology, but nothing has happened. The timing of this Voter ID requirement bill seems a bit too coincidental.”

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins: North Dakota’s Voter ID Bill Threatens to Silence Native Votes Just Eight Days After Republican Congressman Cramer Publicly Bashes Tribes and Threatens Native Leaders (Last Real Indian 4/25)