Voting Is Easy for Native Americans in North Dakota…Says Senator Heidi Heitkamp?


N.D. Senator Heidi Heitkamp answers a question posed by the Grand Forks Herald editorial board on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

There have been a lot of national headlines devoted to North Dakota’s voter ID law, recently upheld in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Most of it promotes the idea that the voter ID law suppresses the Native American vote in our state.

Get a load of these headlines from a Google News search:

Some of it is preemptive excuse making for the very real possibility that incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp might lose reelection. For our liberal friends, voter suppression is a more comfortable explanation for that loss than, say, the fact that the national Democratic party has become an enemy to the interests of rural voters. Or that Heitkamp’s campaign has been surprisingly incompetent.

But what if voting for Native Americans is actually pretty easy? And all this folderol in the national press is just rote accusations of racism from newsrooms which take it as an article of faith that Republican-backed reforms to voting laws must be racist?

Voting for all North Dakotans is very easy. I mean, we don’t even have voter registration. If you’ve got the right ID, and you’ve been living in our state for at least 30 days, you can just show up and vote.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Senator Heitkamp herself, striking a much different tone on the ease of voting for Native Americans in a statement given to a tribal newspaper than she does in talking points delivered to the non-tribal press (full article below):

That clip is from an article published in the October 15 edition of the Turtle Mountain Times, a publication owned by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribal government. It was provided to me by a SAB reader who is a member of the Turtle Mountain tribe.

But back to the point of the post, how can Heitkamp simultaneously tell a Native American audience that voting is easy while telling the national press that votes are being suppressed?

This is what Heitkamp told ABC News about the voter ID situation:

“Why would we ever disenfranchise a Native American veteran who only has a P.O. box that everybody knows when they walk into the polling booth, they know exactly who that person is, they know that they’re a North Dakota resident. That’s why we don’t have registration in North Dakota because we don’t have this problem and anyone who says this isn’t about disenfranchising Native Americans is not being honest,” the senator said.

These are utterly contradictory statements, and sure makes it seem like the Senator is couching her rhetoric in politics as opposed to truth and honesty.

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