A federal judge on Monday blocked North Dakota's voter identification law after a group of American Indians said it unfairly burdens them — the latest court ruling against voting laws that critics say disproportionately affect minorities.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland issued a temporary restraining order and criticized the state for its 2013 repeal of provisions that let people without valid IDs vote if someone vouched for them or if they signed an affidavit swearing they were a qualified voter.
"The public interest in protecting the most cherished right to vote for thousands of Native Americans who currently lack a qualifying ID and cannot obtain one, outweighs the purported interest and arguments of the State," Hovland wrote.
He added: "There are a multitude of easy remedies that most states have adopted in some form to alleviate this burden."
It was the latest setback in the courts for Republican efforts that critics say are intended to restrict voting rights but that supporters tout as anti-fraud measures that keep non-citizens from voting. In three separate rulings Friday, a federal appeals court blocked North Carolina's law requiring photo ID, a federal judge in Wisconsin ordered changes to make it easier for voters to get a valid ID, and a Kansas judge said the state must count thousands of votes from people who didn't provide proof of citizenship when they registered. Earlier in July, a federal appellate court ruled that Texas' voter ID law was discriminatory.