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Standing Rock raises almost $250K to help pay for free voter IDs

FORT YATES, N.D. — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has raised almost $250,000 to pay for costs related to voting, including giving free IDs to tribal members after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new North Dakota voter identification law.

The tribe in south-central North Dakota reported Tuesday evening, Nov. 6, more than 5,400 donors gave $238,892 in less than three weeks, according to the “Help Standing Rock Vote” GoFundMe page. The fundraising page was set up Oct. 18 after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with North Dakota, saying it was legal for the state to require residential street addresses.

A large number of Native Americans in North Dakota have post office box addresses on tribal IDs, which is not considered valid under the new law. Some have claimed the law was meant to disenfranchise tribal voters.

“This law clearly discriminates against Native Americans in North Dakota,” said Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith. “Our voices should be heard and they should be heard fairly at the polls just like all other Americans.”

Tribes in the state have worked with the Secretary of State’s Office to get tribal members free IDs. In Standing Rock, the GoFundMe money will be used to pay for transporting tribal members to polls, filing voting information paperwork and purchasing ID cards, the page said.

Elsewhere in North Dakota, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure said via Twitter his tribe has printed more than 2,000 voter IDs in two weeks, also in response to the Supreme Court ruling.

“The Turtle Mountains have easily surpassed our voting numbers from state/federal elections the last 4 years and polls are still open,” Azure posted shortly before 7 p.m., when the polls closed there. “People are literally standing outside in winter conditions waiting to add to that collective voice of the TM's with their educated vote!!”

Video and photos on social media show dozens of tribal high school students on the reservation in north-central North Dakota marching in opposition of the voter ID law.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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