- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2020

American Indian tribes in Montana sued the state Thursday over a voter ID law they say disproportionately infringes on their constitutional right to vote.

The lawsuit filed in Yellowstone County alleges provisions of the Montana Ballot Interference Protection Act — approved by voters in a statewide referendum in 2018 — unduly restrict voting by enrolled tribal members who rely on intermediaries to deliver ballots to polling places.

The ACLU and the Native American Rights Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of various tribes, including the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck, the Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Crow Tribe, and Fort Belknap Indian Community.

“We are urging the court to immediately block this law that would disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters who live on rural reservations,” said Alora Thomas-Lundborg, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “This case is about making sure every eligible voter who wants to vote can actually do so.”

Montana’s BIPA allows “caregivers, family members, household members or acquaintances” to deliver ballots on a voter’s behalf to polling places or election administration offices. However, attorneys maintain, definitions of “family members” on the reservation are more ambiguous and wide-ranging.

Last month, neighboring North Dakota agreed to a consent decree resolving two lawsuits filed by American Indian groups alleging a requirement that voters show an ID with a residential address resulted in voter suppression for tribal residents.

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