The judge, Daniel L. Hovland of the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, wrote in a brief, two-page order that it was simply too close to Election Day to do so. He noted that “federal courts are unanimous in their judgment that it is highly important to preserve the status quo when elections are fast approaching.”
His order was in response to a lawsuit that the Campaign Legal Center and the Native American Rights Fund filed Tuesday on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe and six individuals. The suit described mass confusion and bureaucratic obstacles as Native Americans tried to obtain the addresses and corresponding identification now required.
North Dakota officials maintain that any voter without a residential address can obtain one easily from their county’s 911 coordinator. But the lawsuit identified multiple instances in which people were unable to obtain an address through that process; obtained one but were denied an absentee ballot because election officials deemed the state-issued address invalid; or were denied an absentee ballot because the address they had used for years could not be found in the state’s database.