Native American Woman Beat the Sponsor of North Dakota’s ID Law Amid Surge in Tribal GOTV Efforts
Despite a state law aimed at disenfranchising Native American voters in North Dakota, they turned out for last week’s election in numbers unprecedented even for a presidential election, much less a midterm -- and they made history. In a Republican district in the Fargo area, Ruth Buffalobecame the first Native American Democratic woman elected to the North Dakota Legislature -- unseating State Representative Randy Boehning, the primary sponsor of the very voter ID law aimed at Native Americans. The law required voters to use an ID card bearing a residential street address, even though most people in tribal communities do not have a street address. The law was initially blocked by a federal judge but allowed to take effect on appeal. Buffalo, a former Chair of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and current Special Projects Coordinator for the First Nations Women's Alliance, says she didn’t realize she defeated the sponsor of the law. “It’s crazy that it happened that way because I just didn’t -- I guess I didn’t know that, to be honest. That he was the prime author. I didn’t know until the day after the election, when a current legislator pointed it out,” she told the NYT. The Si Tanka University grad holds three Masters: one in management, another in business administration, and one in public health -- the field in which she has spent much of her career. Now back to the numbers: In Sioux County, where the Standing Rock Indian Reservation is, Native American voter turnout was up 105% from the last midterm elections in 2014 and 17% from the 2016 presidential election. In Rolette County, home to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, it was up 62% from 2014 and 33% from 2016. In Benson County, home to the Spirit Lake Nation, it was up 52% from 2014 and 10% from 2016. More here.