From the Editor’s Desk | We Should Demand Equal Voting Privileges for Natives

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a state law signed by Gov. Doug Burgum that requires all North Dakotans to provide proper identification with a residential address on it when voting.

This wouldn’t be a problem, but residents on reservations in North Dakota often do not have residential addresses and instead have IDs that list P.O. boxes.

It is our responsibility to raise concern over this. It is our duty because we believe that everyone has an equal voice and the right to vote, something all Americans and North Dakotans should share.

“As I’ve looked at the law, it’s not very complicated to vote,” Congressmen Kevin Cramer said in a recent sit down with Marcie Bollinger and Chris Berg on Valley News Live.

You’re right, Congressmen Cramer. North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t require voter registration. However, why does that process, which primarily affects Native Americans and the homeless population, have to be harder for thousands of North Dakotans? Do those North Dakotans not deserve the same level of ease to vote that I enjoy?

“Why should we have to sue in North Dakota every year to get voting rights for Native people?” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp asked during a roundtable discussion earlier this year. It seems that the senator is concerned about this issue.

This isn’t a partisan issue, and it shouldn’t be treated like one. All of our representatives should be equally upset about this issue. We should expect and demand equal representation.

Taking a national approach to this, President Trump has stated that voter fraud is enough to rig elections. Trump personally seems content to focus more on this than Russian interference. Logical complaints are ignored in favor of audacious claims. This situation in North Dakota is a logical complaint. It needs to be heard.

Voting integrity is important, but voter fraud is rare. The Washington Post published a report that found only four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election. So is having this requirement really affecting anything?

No matter whom you are voting for in November, no matter whom you are backing, please demand that they hold the voices of everyone in this country equally. Honestly, that isn’t asking them much.

Don’t buy into this idea that changing that part of the law is unneeded. It is fully needed to send a message to the Native population of this state that we care to hear their voices equally. It also sends a message to the homeless who live among us that their voice still matters.

Don’t be stagnant, let your voice be heard and don’t be afraid to demand decency from your representatives. Let me be clear: North Dakota has easy voting practices, which I enjoy a lot. But when another member of our state has it harder, and it’s just because of where they live and their heritage, that is wrong.

For the time being, anyone who does not have the proper ID for voting on Nov. 6, please take the following information. Contact your county’s 911 coordinator to request a street address and to get a letter sent confirming that address.  

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