David Gipp: Indian voting rights abused in North Dakota county
"Let there be no mistake about what has happened: The Benson County Board of Commissioners has deliberately made it more difficult for members of the Spirit Lake tribe to vote in the Nov. 2 general election.

For the first time in many years, Benson County has failed to provide polling places on the Spirit Lake Reservation, claiming people there should vote by mail or drive to Minnewaukan, off the reservation, to cast a ballot.

Commissioners give the excuse that this is about holding down costs. The Spirit Lake tribe has offered to staff a polling place and pay the costs, eliminating that issue. But Benson County Commissioners declined four motions during their meetings in recent weeks to re-establish a polling place on the reservation.

Voting results on Spirit Lake show that voting by tribal citizens at tribal precincts increased dramatically from 2004 to 2008. Voter turnout at the Fort Totten precinct increased by 44 percent.

Fort Totten is the Benson County precinct with the most voters by more than 230 votes. Even Warwick, another tribal precinct, had greater voter turnout than Minnewaukan, where the county would locate its only polling place in 2010. Of the county’s eight precincts, Minnewaukan had the third fewest voters in 2008."

Get the Story:
David M. Gipp: Voting rights are being abused (The Bismarck Tribune 10/19)

Another Opinion:
OUR OPINION: N.D. county should yield on polling place (TheUR OPINION: N.D. county should yield on polling place 10/19)

Related Stories:
Sen. Dorgan backs Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation in voting dispute (10/13)
Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation sues county for voting rights again (10/12)
Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation files suit over lack of polling sites (10/11)
Editorial: Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation needs its own polling place (10/6)