The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed North Dakota to enforce for the midterm elections its full voter ID law, which a federal judge had previously sought to relax in a lawsuit brought by Native Americans in the state.
The law lets voters who don’t have the required ID show certain supplemental documentation with their name and street address. Native Americans in the state had challenged a provision in the law requiring that the address be a residential street address, rather than a PO Box or other kind of address, given that some members of some tribes don’t have residential street addresses.
A federal judge ruled in favor of the challengers and expanded the law’s requirements so documents with non-residential street addresses were acceptable. However, an appeals court blocked that ruling for the 2018 elections, and the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to leave appeals court order blocking the expansion of the law in place.
The Supreme Court did not give the full breakdown on how the justices voted on the issue, but Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly noted their dissent, with Ginsburg writing that the “the risk of disfranchisement is large.”
“The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction,” Ginsburg wrote, in the dissent joined by Kagan. “Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court this weekend, did not participate in the court’s decision.