8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates North Dakota voter ID requirement

Democrats vehemently oppose voter identification (ID), claiming that requiring voter ID is a form of “voter suppression” because, for some inexplicable reason, requiring them to show their IDs especially would discourage and prevent people-of-color from voting.

But as The Daily Signal points out, voter ID laws are rooted in a desire to promote election integrity because election fraud has been and continues to plague U.S. elections, as can be seen in The Heritage Foundation’s election fraud database. Moreover, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that voter ID laws have no discernible effect on reducing the turnout of voters. Over the period 2008 to 2016, the researchers found that voter ID “laws have no negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation.

North Dakota is the only U.S. state that does not require citizens to register to vote. In that state, without having registered to vote, a resident can show up on Election Day and vote —as long you show identification.

North Dakota’s state legislature stipulates that a valid form of identification must show the voter’s legal name, current residential address, and date of birth. Valid IDs include a driver’s license, a nondriver’s ID card issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, or an “official form of identification issued by a tribal government to a tribal member residing in the state”.

However, even if an individual cannot produce one of the three acceptable IDs, North Dakota would still allow him/her to vote if s/he produces a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or a check or other document issued by a federal, state, or local government agency.

Moreover, a prospective voter who cannot provide either a valid form of ID or a supplemental documentation like a bank statement, may still vote. But his/her ballot would be set aside until the voter presents an acceptable ID either before the close of the polls that day, or within 6 days to “an employee of the office of the election official responsible for the administration of the election.”

Despite the reasonableness of North Dakota’s voter ID law, in January 2016, six members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians sued, claiming that the ID requirement restricted the ability of tribal members to register and exercise their right to vote, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, state law, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As described in Court House News, the 6 Native American plaintiffs — Richard Brakebill, Dorothy Herman, Della Merrick, Elvis Norquay, Ray Norquay, Lucille Vivier — claimed that the ID requirement places an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote of many Native Americans because Native Americans in North Dakota are “disproportionately homeless” and “often live on reservations or in other rural areas where people do not have street addresses; even if they do … those addresses are frequently not included on tribal IDs.” It must be noted that the six plaintiffs themselves all have residential addresses.

On August 1, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota – Bismarck granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, on the grounds that voter ID imposes “excessively burdensome requirements” on Native American voters in North Dakota which outweigh the State’s asserted interests. The district court cited statistical evidence that North Dakota’s voter ID law would prevent 2,305 Native Americans from voting because they did not possess a valid ID.

North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger appealed the district court’s decision.

On July 31, 2019, in a 2-1 decision, the 3-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated North Dakota’s voter ID requirement and tossed out the lower district court’s injunction. The three judges are:

  • Steven Colloton, a G. W. Bush appointee.
  • William Benton, a G. W. Bush appointee.
  • Jane Kelly, an Obama appointee.

In Brakebill et al. v. Jaeger, Judge Steven Colloton writes for the 2-to-1 majority (it’s no mystery who the dissenting judge is):

  • North Dakota’s voter ID law “does not impose a burden on voters that justifies a statewide injunction” preventing the state from implementing the ID requirement because only less than 0.5% of all eligible voters in North Dakota do not have a valid ID or supplemental documentation.
  • Requiring voters to have a residential street address is not discriminatory. Judge Colloton cites former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens’ opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008), in which the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID requirement: A “residential street address furthers North Dakota’s legitimate interest in preventing voter fraud and safeguarding voter confidence, so unlike a poll tax, it is not invidiously ‘unrelated to voter qualifications.’”
  • The 6 plaintiffs presented no evidence to support their contention that residents without a valid ID had “attempted to obtain a supplemental document and were unsuccessful.”
  • Colloton concludes that “In short, the evidence is insufficient to show that the valid form of identification requirement places a substantial burden on most North Dakota voters.”

The 6 Native American plaintiffs of the original lawsuit — Richard Brakebill, Dorothy Herman, Della Merrick, Elvis Norquay, Ray Norquay, Lucille Vivier — have filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the Circuit Court’s ruling.

4 of the 6 plaintiffs have a criminal record. See “4 of 6 Native Americans who sued to prevent North Dakota from implementing voter ID law, have a criminal record“.

~Eowyn

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DCG
Admin
DCG
11 months ago

Good news.

Alma
Alma
11 months ago

About time some common sense is put in practice.

Harvey
Harvey
11 months ago

Any state that does not have a voter ID law should not be allowed to vote in federal elections.

Richard Margolis
Richard Margolis
11 months ago
Reply to  Harvey

You need an ID to take out a library book, what is the big deal about an ID to vote. It just prevents fraud.

williamofberkshire
williamofberkshire
11 months ago

The dems don’t want to prevent fraud. It’s how they get “elected”

William F Kavanagh
William F Kavanagh
11 months ago

Great! It is a start to get this accomplished in all 50 states and our territories.

kjf
kjf
11 months ago

Its funny everyone waits for men dressed in death robes to justify laws. They, the judges are not the be all end all. They should have been ignored with long ago. The ppl voted, reps, voted governor signed. The federal courts need to be stripped down and disappear.

The 9th will hear a similar case and over turn it.

D3F1ANT
D3F1ANT
11 months ago

Obviously there’s only ONE reason that one would NOT wish to require a voter to prove citizenship…

SE Smith
SE Smith
11 months ago

This is great news! Thank you for reporting to us

Jan_in_NH
Jan_in_NH
11 months ago

NH allows people to register the day of the election. Although we have a voter ID law, they allow people to use an out of state license with a local address. In the 2016 election over 5000 people voted with out-of-state licenses, but fake local addresses. It was found the same address was used hundreds of times; the address of some lib dem.
Hag hillary won by 3000 votes, but take away the 5000 illegal votes and Trump won NH.
As far as I know, the states has only filed charges against 2 MA voters for vote fraud.

williamofberkshire
williamofberkshire
11 months ago
Reply to  Jan_in_NH

They used the same address hundreds of times? It was probably a commune or a kibbutz:) I live in MA and I think you have your figures reversed. As far as I know there were only two MA voters who DIDN’T commit fraud. I was one of them, the other was my cat. Cats can vote here as long as they vote D. My cat is black so voting D for him is a no-brainer. I’ll have to enlighten him

Watertender
Watertender
11 months ago

Voter ID is a good idea. I want to know that I cast my own vote. The voting inspectors here know me because I have never missed even a primary. Years ago I voted absentee a few times when on a freighter run so I do take it seriously

True Dan
True Dan
11 months ago

An appeal to the Supreme Court is quite expensive. I wonder who is funding this.