The Spirit Lake Nation and two tribal members sued Benson County North Dakota, alleging that the county’s at-large redistricting plan: (1) discriminates against Native American voters by unlawfully diluting their voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and (2) violates a 2000 consent decree in which the county was prohibited from ever implementing an at-large method of election. Here is the Complaint:
The decision acknowledges that the county’s current redistricting plan would dilute the voting power of the Native community and requires the county commissioners to create a new plan for the county elections in November. “The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe remains ready to help Lyman County make positive changes on and off-reservation: let’s get started,” said plaintiff, voter, and Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Neil Russell.
On January 24, 2022, a unanimous three-judge court in the Milligan case blocked Alabama’s newly drawn congressional map. The Court ordered the state Legislature to draft a new congressional map that complies with the Voting Rights Act by including two districts where Black voters have the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The Supreme Court is now hearing the case.
The Tribes’ Release can be seen here. From the release:
“North Dakota’s newly drawn state legislative map dilutes the voting strength of Spirt Lake members. The Secretary of State has tried to dismiss the case on far-fetched procedural arguments because he doesn’t want to have to argue the facts, but we look forward to the opportunity move forward with this case,” said Spirit Lake Tribe Chair Douglas Yankton, Sr.
“Historically, Native voters in northeastern North Dakota have been able to elect two State House candidates of our choice. The new map reduces our representatives to one and is in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act. We appreciate that the court recognized that Tribes and individual Native voters have the right to be heard and have our voting rights protected,” said Turtle Mountain Chippewa Chair Jamie Azure.
The Motion, Response, Reply, and United States’ Statement of Interest are below.
“Through this lawsuit we’re insisting Lyman County hold elections with a fairly drawn map in 2022,” said plaintiff, voter, and Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Neil Russell.
The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and three enrolled members filed the lawsuit to prevent Lyman County from continuing to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act until 2026. “Like every other county already using new election district maps adopted after the 2020 Census in 2022, Lyman County must comply with the Voting Rights Act and implement the revised district map immediately,” said Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Staff Attorney Samantha Kelty. “Lyman County cannot continue to disenfranchise voters who live on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation until 2026.”
The MHA Nation and individual Native American voters in North Dakota have filed a motion to intervene as defendants into a North Dakota District Court redistricting case. The plaintiffs have sued the State to overturn a legislative subdistrict for the Fort Berthold Reservation. The MHA Nation and tribal member intervenors are seeking to defend the Fort Berthold Reservation subdistrict that was approved by the North Dakota legislature.
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Spirit Lake Tribe, and several individual voters filed suit in 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). You can see the complaint here.
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