Monday, October 15, 2018

The Supreme Court Just Took the Right to Vote From Native Americans

The Supreme Court has upheld a law passed by North Dakota that says only people with street addresses can vote. This is bullshit for many reasons, including taking the right to vote away from homeless people. This is a big step back toward the original intent of our founders, which was to only allow white male landowners to vote.

But there's another aspect to this decision that most of my fellow white people are probably unaware of. North Dakota has a large indigenous population and several reservations. The reservations in this country are very often (maybe completely) areas of abject poverty that lack paved roads, electricity, indoor plumbing, etc. The houses there often don't have U.S. addresses, and the USPS will only give them PO boxes.

That means that a huge portion of the Native American population of North Dakota just had their vote stolen from them.

Supreme Court Enables Mass Disenfranchisement of North Dakota’s Native Americans

The voter ID law was introduced just months after Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, eked out a narrow upset victory in 2012, winning by less than 3,000 votes. Republican lawmakers responded by passing restrictive voter ID legislation that all but guaranteed that large numbers of Native Americans — who tend to vote Democratic — wouldn’t be able to participate in the political process. Specifically, the law requires voters to bring to the polls an ID that displays a “current residential street address” or other supplemental documentation that provides proof of such an address. 
This may seem like an innocuous requirement, but in practice, it’s likely to disenfranchise thousands of Native Americans, many of whom live on reservations in rural areas and don’t have street addresses. Since the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t provide residential mail delivery in remote areas, many members of North Dakota’s Native American tribes list their mailing addresses, like P.O. boxes, on their IDs. And some also don’t have supplemental documentation, like a utility bill or bank statement, because of homelessness or poverty. Now, because the Supreme Court refused to block the law, people who show up at their polling station with a P.O. box on their ID will be turned away.

Native Americans were the last marginalized group to gain the right to vote in the U.S. Now they're the first to lose it in our evolving fascist state.

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