The Spirit Lake Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and several individual voters filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota challenging North Dakota’s state legislative map, as unlawfully diluting the voting rights of Native Americans in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and the Law Offices of Bryan Sells represent the plaintiffs in their suit. Robins Kaplan LLP represents the Spirit Lake Tribe.
“In a process that is supposed to produce election boundaries that fairly and accurately reflect North Dakota’s population, the state instead approved a map designed to stifle Native American votes,” said plaintiff and Chair of North Dakota Native Vote Wes Davis (Turtle Mountain Chippewa).
In November 2021, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed into law H.B. 1504, redrawing state legislative districts to account for population shifts captured by the 2020 Census. The new redistricting plan simultaneously packs a supermajority of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians citizens into a single house subdistrict, District 9A, and cracks other Turtle Mountain citizens into House Subdistrict 9B and Spirit Lake citizens into House District 15.
“Instead of creating fair boundaries as outlined in the Voting Rights Act, the map adopted by the North Dakota Legislature silences Native American voters on every issue, lowers the chance Native voters could elect a candidate they feel best represents their community, and prevents communities in these splintered districts from receiving a fair share of public resources. Spirit Lake Tribe proudly stands with individual voters in North Dakota to protect our democratic rights,” said Spirit Lake Tribe Chair Douglas Yankton, Sr.
Read the latest updates on the case at the NARF website.