A federal judge blocked a North Dakota voter ID law on grounds that it discriminated against Native Americans, marking a victory for voting rights advocates and a setback for state lawmakers around the country who want to require ID to vote.
North Dakota is now the third state, along with North Carolina and Wisconsin, where federal judges struck down state voter ID laws on discrimination grounds, reported Reuters.
In the North Dakota case, seven Native American voters filed a federal lawsuit against the state in 2013 after those lawmakers passed a law requiring ID to vote. Voter ID laws were passed in several states after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states no longer had to get permission from the federal government to change their state voting laws, which had previously been required in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But voting rights advocates argue those laws disproportionately affect poor, minority and elderly voters in several ways, including creating an indirect “poll tax” because there is usually a fee for ID cards, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
United States District Judge Daniel Hovland said North Dakota’s law would create a clear burden for Native American voters in the state that others in the state wouldn't be impacted by.
“The record is replete with concrete evidence of significant burdens imposed on Native American voters attempting to exercise their right to vote,” Hovland wrote, according to The New York Times.
Hovland added that the law wasn't necessary, due to limited evidence of voter fraud.
“To the contrary, the record before the court reveals that the secretary of state acknowledged in 2006 that he was unaware of any voter fraud in North Dakota,” he wrote.
North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger told The New York Times the state does not plan to file an appeal on the ruling and would seek less restrictive identification measures.
Sources: Reuters via The Huffington Post, ACLU, The New York Times/ Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr via Generation Progress