The risk of disenfranchisement is large

That lawsuit against North Dakota’s voter identification law? The judge ruled against a stay.

A federal judge in North Dakota on Wednesday declined to grant emergency relief to a Native American tribe and voters who said they are being disenfranchised by North Dakota’s voter identification law.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that granting an injunction days before the election “will create as much confusion as it will alleviate.”

But Hovland said the allegations contained in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, “give this Court great cause for concern. The allegations will require a detailed response from the Secretary of State as this case proceeds.”

Versions of North Dakota’s voter identification law have been the subject of litigation for the past few years. Earlier this year, Hovland found the requirements, including identification carrying a residential street address, disproportionately burdened Native American voters.

He also found that thousands of Native Americans were less likely to possess identification that met the requirements or the documentation required to obtain identification.

A federal appeals court in September lifted the stay that prevented the residential street address requirement from being enforced. The majority opinion noted that “if any resident of North Dakota lacks a current residential street address and is denied an opportunity to vote on that basis, the courthouse doors remain open” — a line the plaintiff cited in the opening of a filing in the lawsuit filed this week.

In October, the Supreme Court declined to stay the appeals court ruling, allowing the street address requirement to go into effect for the November election. In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the “risk of disenfranchisement is large.”

It’s as if we’ve been returned to 1950, without even an overnight bag.

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