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Fri Feb 14, 2020, 01:32 AM

Secretary of State Agrees to Settle Voter ID Lawsuits by Entering Into Consent Decree with North Da

Source: Native American Rights Fund

In the wake of the district courtís denial of the Stateís motion to dismiss, the Secretary of State has agreed to settle two federal voting rights lawsuits brought by two Native American Tribes and several individual voters over North Dakotaís voter ID law.

The law requires voters to present identification listing their residential street address Ė a substantial hurdle for many Native Americans living on reservations, because the state has failed to assign residential street addresses to homes on tribal reservations.

In January 2016, eight Native Americans, represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Tom Dickson, and Rich de Bodo filed suit to block the North Dakota voter ID law, which disenfranchised Native American voters and violated both state and federal constitutions as well as the Voting Rights Act.

On October 30, 2018, NARF, Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Robins Kaplan LLP, and Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC filed a separate lawsuit on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe and six individual plaintiffs to ensure that eligible Native American voters residing on reservations in North Dakota would be able to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections and in all future elections. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with approximately 5,868 residents of voting-age that could be affected by the law, joined the Spirit Lake case in early 2019.

Read more: https://www.narf.org/nd-voting-rights/

Secretary of State and North Dakota Tribes Agree to Settle Voter ID Lawsuit
Voting Rights

Joint Statement By North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Spirit Lake Nation, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Today, the Spirit Lake Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other Plaintiffs, and the North Dakota Secretary of State in Brakebill, et. al v. Jaeger and Spirit Lake et. al v. Jaeger are pleased to announce an agreement in principle to settle these two federal cases and to address the claims related to tribal IDs for voting and other ballot access concerns of the Native American residents in North Dakota.

Last week, Governor Burgum approved the request for emergency administrative rules promulgated by the Secretary of State related to tribal IDs and supplemental documentation for the purposes of voting as well as validation of set aside ballots marked by Native Americans for inclusion in the final vote tally of an election. During a mediation conducted in-person on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at the North Dakota Capitol, the Plaintiffs and the Secretary of State recognized that the temporary, emergency rules were a first step forward to addressing some of the claims in the two federal lawsuits. At this mediation, the parties agreed to additional terms of settlement aimed at voter protection which will become part of a court-ordered Consent Decree. The Consent Decree will ensure all Native Americans who are qualified electors can vote, relieve certain burdens on the Tribes related to determining residential street addresses for their tribal members and issuing tribal IDs, and ensure ongoing cooperation through mutual collaboration between the State and the Tribes to address concerns or issues that may arise in the future.

While formal approval of the final agreement by the Spirit Lake Nationís Council and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribeís Council will be necessary, the agreement in principal has been signed by legal counsel for the Plaintiffs and for the Secretary of State. We look forward to the Courtís final action on the Consent Decree and we will be working together on the details outlined in the emergency Rules and on the final agreement to ensure that Native Americans who are qualified electors will be able to vote in 2020 and beyond.

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