Bismarck, ND – Last week, the Chief Judge for the District of North Dakota ruled that the state’s 2021 legislative redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by illegally diluting Native Americans’ voting strength and denying them the opportunity to elect their preferred candidates to the legislature. GOP Leaders have now chosen to appeal this Trump appointee’s decision.
“It is a mistake to appeal this decision. Judge Welte carefully considered the evidence before him, engaged in thorough legal analysis, and authored a decision consistent with the facts and long-standing precedent,” said House Minority Leader Zac Ista (D-Grand Forks). “The ruling gives the legislature a second chance to do the right thing: draw a legislative district map that ensures Native American representation and abides by the Voting Rights Act,” added Ista.
Senate Minority Leader Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo) remarked, “The State should accept this ruling and work without delay and without incurring additional costs to the taxpayers to adopt new districts that conform to the Voting Rights Act. Instead, the State is using a legally dubious new 8th Circuit opinion as cover for its misguided decision to appeal.” Voting rights experts from across the country have assailed a November 20 split ruling by a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, with most experts believing an appeal of that case is inevitable. “Rather than waiting for that lengthy legal process to play out, North Dakota should take the lead and redraw our legislative maps now,” added Hogan.
The rulings in North Dakota and the 8th Circuit highlight the continued Republican assault on voting rights and fair legislative and congressional districts across the country. “Voting rights are sacred in our country. There should be broad, bipartisan support to make voting easier and more accessible and to draw legislative districts fairly. But too many Republicans in too many places are continuing an assault on voting rights, most often in ways that disproportionately impact racial minorities,” said Ista.
Hogan concluded, “Let’s not add North Dakota to this list; let’s instead adopt new legislative maps that advance Native American representation in our great state.”
The Democratic-NPL has been a leader in promoting and supporting Native American representation across the state, including current state representatives Jayme Davis (D-Rollette) and Lisa Finley-DeVille (D-Mandaree) and former elected leaders like Ruth Buffalo and Richard Marcellais. In addition to their elected positions, Davis also serves as House Minority Caucus Leader, Finley-DeVille serves as the Vice Chair of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL, and Buffalo is the current DNC Committeewoman for the state party. The Democratic-NPL also supports its Native American Caucus chaired by Prairie Rose Seminole.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 21, 2023