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People vote at a polling station on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota on November 8, 2016. (Reuters / Stephanie Keith).
People vote at a polling station on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota, on November 8, 2016. (Reuters / Stephanie Keith).

Vote suppression and marginalization in North Dakota

The decision of the Supreme Court to maintain a sentence that requires voters in North Dakota to present identification and a residence certificate at the time…

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In a race as tight and as important as the midterm elections in November, every vote counts. But partisan efforts have focused - among other things - on suppressing votes, especially those of minorities.

Such is the case of what is currently happening in North Dakota, where a 2017 law requiring voter identification was discussed by native residents who claimed that "the law disproportionately blocked Native Americans at the time of voting" explained Mother Jones.

The reality is that many Native Americans in the state don’t have an adequate mailing address due to the boundaries of the U.S. Postal Service, which is why many tribal members use mailboxes from the post office that are now considered "insufficient" by the new law.

According to District Court Judge Daniel Hovland, "an individual who does not have a current residential street address will never be qualified to vote," which has been interpreted as a mechanism of marginalization of minorities of color when exercising their rights.

Despite the lawsuit filed by the Native American Rights Fund, the Supreme Court has decided not to intervene, according to a decision on Tuesday, leaving the law in place and putting Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's seat in jeopardy in November, especially because of the fundamental contribution that Native-American votes have represented during her tenure.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg further explained this in her text of dissent, where she "highlighted that 70,000 residents of North Dakota, who constitute almost 20% of the participation in a regular four-year election, lack a qualified identification," Fortune quoted. "Another 18,000 residents lack sufficient complementary documentation to allow them to vote without qualified identification."

Ginsburg added that "changing the rules before the November election could cause confusion among voters," significantly reducing voter turnout in the general elections.

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