A federal district court judge on Thursday refused to temporarily exempt Native Americans in North Dakota from a state law requiring residents to show a valid ID that lists a current residential street address when voting.
Chief Judge Daniel Hovland, of the U.S. District Court for North Dakota, cited Tuesday’s midterm election in his decision to reject the emergency request for temporary relief from the requirement to provide proof of a residential address.
Hovland, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, stated, “The federal courts are unanimous in their judgment that it is highly important to preserve the status quo when elections are fast approaching.”
Native Americans argue they are disenfranchised by the law because residents of reservations don’t have standard addresses.
The state is home to a key Senate race this year, with Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D) relying on support from Native Americans in her campaign against Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerRepublicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police Trump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans MORE (R). Heitkamp was first elected in 2012 with strong support from Native Americans.
In April, the district court blocked the voter ID law from being enforced, but that order was stayed by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 24.
In early October, the Supreme Court denied a request from the plaintiffs to toss out the 8th Circuit’s ruling.
Hovland said Thursday that the allegations in the Native Americans’ complaint do give the court great cause for concern.
“However,” he said, “a further injunction on the eve of this election will create as much confusion as it will alleviate, and is foreclosed by precedent which is hesitant to permit ‘eleventh-hour changes to election laws.’”
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