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Lawsuit challenging reservation voting requirement loses appeal

A federal appeals panel rejected arguments that a requirement that nonresident members of the Three Affiliated Tribes return to vote in tribal elections was illegal.

"I Voted" stickers
Stickers are available to Cass County residents who have voted early in the June 8 election. Dave Wallis / The Forum

ST. PAUL — Federal appeals judges have rejected arguments that a requirement that nonresident members of the Three Affiliated Tribes must return to the reservation to vote in tribal elections violated federal laws.

In a decision filed Friday, Jan. 14, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a federal lawsuit by Raymond Cross and Marilyn Hudson, who later died.

The lawsuit, filed in 2018 in tribal court in New Town, N.D., argued that the return-to-the reservation requirement violated the Voting Rights Act and Indian Civil Rights Act. It also argued that the requirement ignored nonresident members' life circumstances, advanced age, physical disabilities, military service obligations, college commitments or family responsibilities.

The tribal court for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, the Three Affiliated Tribes, rejected the case. Cross and Hudson filed a legal challenge in U.S. District Court in Bismarck in 2020. U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor rejected the arguments, saying the federal court lacked jurisdiction.

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