One of the things I want to focus on as we get into the final weeks of the campaign are a series of unfolding efforts by Republicans to hold their own by preventing as many people as possible from voting. One of the clearest, most egregious cases is a voter ID law in North Dakota which the Supreme Court refused to block yesterday. All voter ID laws are bad. But this one is uniquely so. It is specifically tailored to disenfranchise the state’s substantial Native American population.
It works like this. The state’s Native American population lives mostly on rural reservations. Since the postal service doesn’t deliver to these areas, this people overwhelmingly uses PO boxes. In effect they don’t have street addresses since these aren’t used for any public purpose. But the law specifically requires your voter ID include a street address.
There are more technical details of how it all works. But Native Americans in the state vote heavily Democratic. And the legislature focused on this after Heidi Heitkamp unexpectedly won her Senate seat in 2012.
One of the first races I covered intensively at TPM was the South Dakota Senate race in 2002. One of the things that was so interesting about it to me as a reporting challenge was that Republicans similarly focused on clamping down on Native American voting. In that case, it was a series of bogus stories about “voter fraud” on the reservations. The same old racket. By most standards these are relatively small numbers of people. But in population terms, of course, the Dakotas are tiny, tiny states. It makes a big difference. And of course, every should be free from state efforts to block their right to vote.
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