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Politics and Activism

Native Tribes Shouldn't Have To Jump This Hurdle

Native Americans have faced many injustices. A North Dakota law requiring a state ID is the most recent and it shouldn't make the voting process a complicated process.

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Native American tribes have faced many injustices throughout the course of U.S. history. Even today, some reservations across the country face high levels of homelessness, unemployment, and poverty. But aside from those domestic issues, there's an even bigger fish to fry. A couple weeks ago, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to overturn a North Dakota law requiring voters to show an ID with a current state address.

Now at first glance, there doesn't seem to be any problem with that, right? An ID doesn't seem so harmful, after all, we should try to prevent voter fraud as much as we can. But most Native Americans who live on reservations don't have physical street addresses. On their reservations, they use a P.O. box as an address, but the law in North Dakota says a P.O. box doesn't qualify.

This law makes it much harder for Native Americans in North Dakota to exercise a simple and God-given liberty- the right to vote. Native Americans were first given the right to vote in 1924 when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act. This law qualifies American Indians as citizens and our governments, federal, state, or local, should under no circumstances make it harder for citizens of this country to vote in any elections.

That being said, it isn't impossible for Natives in North Dakota to vote. Tribal leaders and activists are fighting hard to make sure Native Americans can vote in the midterms this November. Tribal leaders can provide a tribal letterhead for those who wish to vote.

Some might say that this is a state issue. Maybe it is why the Supreme Court decided not to intervene. There are some issues that should only be considered state matters. This North Dakota voter ID law isn't one of them because the right to vote should not even be up for debate. We shouldn't undermine our values and make voting harder for certain groups. Voting should be a simple process and it shouldn't be discouraging. If voter fraud is a serious concern, then maybe easier access to acquire an ID is the answer. Some groups of people don't have the time or the means to acquire an ID, as others do. Quick and easy access to an ID and the polls should go hand in hand if laws like the one in North Dakota will remain law.

Native tribes in the U.S. shouldn't have to deal with these kinds of laws. The kind that infringes on basic liberty. Our governments shouldn't make Native Americans jump through these hoops. Denying someone the right to vote and making it a more strenuous process should be frowned upon. Voting is essential to a representative democracy, all citizens, once they're of age, should exercise this right.

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