Judge Voices 'Great Concern' Over North Dakota Voter ID Law, But Rejects Tribe's Lawsuit Anyway

Despite declaring there is "great cause for concern" that thousands of Native Americans could be illegally barred from voting under North Dakota's strict and overtly discriminatory voter ID law, a federal judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by the Spirit Lake Tribe and six individual plaintiffs arguing that the law violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

"This decision ensures that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Native Americans will not be able to vote in the upcoming election," noted Slate reporter Mark Joseph Stern.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland argued that granting the tribe's request for an emergency restraining order to prevent the ID law from going into effect would cause confusion too close to the Nov. 6 midterm elections and declared that "it is highly important to preserve the status quo when elections are fast approaching."

Stephen Wolf, a political analyst with Daily Kos, called this rationale for voter suppression "ridiculous."

"Letting Republican lawmakers abridge American citizens' fundamental right to vote simply because it's too close to an election is a ridiculous principle," Wolf wrote on Twitter.

Corey Goldstone, a spokesperson for the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center—one of the organizations representing the Spirit Lake Tribe—told The Center for Public Integrity that he is "disappointed" with the judge's ruling.

"While we are disappointed with the order, Judge Hovland was correct that the evidence indicates that disenfranchisement will be 'certain,'" Goldstone concluded. "We are considering our options."

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