BISMARCK - Attorneys representing a group of Native Americans challenging North Dakota's voter identification laws filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, Sept. 27.
This week, a federal appeals court halted part of a lower court ruling that said the state must accept IDs and supplemental documentation with a current mailing address. The appellate court said that could lead to voters casting a ballot in the wrong precinct if they use a post office box as a mailing address.
The Native American Rights Fund, which represents the tribal members, said in a news release the ruling means "several thousand" qualified North Dakota voters "will be unable to vote in this year's election simply because they do not have a residential address or because they lack the documentation and/or funds to obtain the required voter identification."
The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to vacate the appellate court ruling.
Republicans have defended the state's voter ID law as a way to deter fraud, which experts say is rare. Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger said the appellate court ruling would make it easier to administer the election.
Jaeger said Friday his office is proceeding under the appellate court ruling and would disseminate information to tribes about Native Americans' options at the polls. He was originally sued in 2016 by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
Jaeger's office issued guidance Monday describing voter ID requirements. North Dakota residents must provide ID that includes their name, current residential address and date of birth, but they can use supplemental documents like a utility bill to prove their eligibility. Valid forms of ID include one issued by the state Department of Transportation, tribal government or U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as a long-term care certificate.
Eligible voters who can't show a valid form of ID can mark a ballot that's set aside until they provide one.