Stephanie Woodard: Native voters turned away in North Dakota

A voting poster on the use of tribal identification cards at the polls in North Dakota. Image from ND Secretary of State

Stephanie Woodard reports on a new lawsuit filed by tribal members in North Dakota who were turned away at the polls for using tribal identification cards:
Tribal elder Dorothy Herman voted in North Dakota for more than 40 years. Until 2014, that is, when a new state law meant she couldn’t obtain acceptable identification for that election, no matter how hard she tried.

On January 20 of this year, she and six more Native voters who were disenfranchised in 2014 filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s recently enacted limitations on the types of documents that can be used to obtain a ballot.

Herman made the trip to the appropriate state office during its advertised open hours. It was closed. She tried again on another day, only to learn that her expired state ID was not enough to obtain an updated one. She was told to return—for a third time—and bring a birth certificate.

At some point, Herman saw a state advertisement about the new regulations and understood that her tribal card would work. Reassured, she brought it to the polls on Election Day but was turned away because it lacked an address. Since Turtle Mountain cards now do include addresses, she went to the tribal office that issued identification to get a new one. It was closed. Herman was disenfranchised. She eventually made that third trip to the state office and paid to obtain a new state document.

Get the Story:
Stephanie Woodard: Native Voters Turned Away at Polls Sue North Dakota (Indian Country Today 1/22)

Join the Conversation