BISMARCK - A federal judge forcefully slapped down North Dakota's efforts to fight his ruling that loosened the state's voter identification law Monday, April 30.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland denied the state's request to delay part of that ruling amid an appeal. The request focused on the April 3 order preventing the state from requiring that IDs include a "current residential street address," which Native American communities often lack.
Attorneys for the state warned Hovland's order could allow residents of other states to vote here, but the judge said they have "raised a litany of embellished concerns" and haven't shown "any evidence of voter fraud in the past or present." He suggested both sides "sit down for one day and create workable and reasonable solutions," possibly with the help of a mediator.
And although the state also sought to suspend Hovland's order requiring a voter education campaign, the judge wrote Monday there was no mandate to do so.
North Dakota is the only state without voter registration. Seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued Secretary of State Al Jaeger in early 2016, arguing voter ID changes passed by the Republican-led Legislature disenfranchised Native Americans.
Tom Dickson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday he wasn't surprised by Hovland's decision. Their request for $1.1 million in attorneys' fees and litigation expenses is still pending.
Jaeger, a Republican, said the state will again request a stay pending appeal but this time in the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Hovland's ruling wasn't "unexpected," but the state's request was a prerequisite to asking for a stay from the appeals court.
"Therefore, we will continue with our plan to seek this relief from the Eighth Circuit before the statewide election to be held on June 12," he said in a statement, referring to the primary.