Disenfranchising Native Americans a cautionary tale

This occurred in North Dakota however the reality is that it can, and most likely will, occur in any state where there are large rural areas without street addresses designated by 911 administrators.  Interestingly, the entire problem goes back to 911 enabling legislation.

When the 911 law was passed state and county administrators were charged with ensuring every road had a name and every house had a house number so that emergency services could get to people in an emergency.  All these years later we STILL have vast areas of the country, mostly rural areas, where there are no road names and there are no house  numbers.   This is especially true on Reservations, and more so when the reservations take up part of counties such is found in the Dakotas.

What happened in North Dakota was that Republicans in the state passed a law which stated that addresses on photo ID must match 911 street index addresses.  ND does NOT have voter registration so people must prove their right to vote at the polls.    Reservations don’t have street addresses because of that aforementioned enabling legislation for the 911 system.  Obviously the tribes sued.  Because of the proximity to the 2018 election a lower court stayed the law and eventually the Supreme Court ruled, nonsensically, that a month was sufficient time to “cure” the deficiencies that created barriers for 70,000 plus voters in ND, most of whom were Native American, would be facing.   30 days to correct the deficiencies were not enough and tens of thousands of Native Americans were turned away from the polls.

Turning tens of thousands of Native Americans, who had been voting in ND elections since the 1970s (ND was one of the LAST states to grant the right to vote to Native Americans) resulted in a lawsuit to force the state to find a solution which did NOT disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters who just happen to be primarily Native American.   That solution is interesting from my perspective because it requires the state department of transportation to issue photo ID free of charge to every reservation resident within 30 days of an election.

It also requires that those who do not have a street address be allowed to place their residence on a map and that department of Transportation and the Secretary of State come up with street addresses FOR the people in question within in specific time period following the 2020 General election & that their votes be counted before those addresses are assigned.

Being something of a realist, I am certain other states with large Native American populations will attempt to use that 911 enabling legislation to disenfranchise Native Americans… especially in “Red States”.  Being something of a realist I also know that poor Caucasians and poor African Americans in rural areas are facing a similar problem with a lack of street addresses.

Lack of street addresses has long been a problem in rural areas.  As an example: “Rural Route 4 Box 217 West Bumfuq Oklahoma” has long been a valid address for the post office in rural areas across the country.  My very first Driver’s License listed my address as “Route 5 Box 278” and I was almost 30 before my address changed from a “route” something to a street address.  Heck, my mother’s house (and she’s been dead since 2004 with nobody living in the house) STILL occasionally gets mail addressed to “Route 2 Box 778” even though the house does have a street address.

If you live in a rural area that still has rural routes for addresses or you don’t have a street address… don’t think for a nanosecond that you are “safe”.  You aren’t.  What was done in ND will spread to other states and it will spread to other populations as well.   It’s just another way for Republicans to disenfranchise minority populations and IF some of those folks who are disenfranchised by their dirty tricks happen to be Republican voters it doesn’t really matter because the ONLY votes that MATTER to Republicans are those of what used to be referred to as “the gentry”.  And that sure as heck isn’t the majority of Americans.

You aren’t a mushroom, don’t allow Republicans to keep you in the dark and feed you bullshit.

Don't be a mushroom