Battling the Hydra: the disparate impact of voter ID requirements in North Dakota

Matt A. Barreto, Gabriel R. Sanchez, Hannah L. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Minority voters have experienced a renewed effort to curtail their access to the ballot box in recent years. Although a host of research has examined the impact of election changes on Black and Latino voters, scholars have dedicated much less attention to the rights of Native Americans, even as they face challenges to voting in states where they comprise a significant portion of the population. Many of these states are likewise increasingly important to national elections. Such laws may impact Native Americans when they intersect with the political geography of living on a reservation, and voting rights advocates have challenged them in places like Montana, Nevada and North Dakota. This paper empirically evaluates how such laws might uniquely impact Native American voters. We draw on North Dakota's voter identification law as a case study, but our analysis has wider implications, since residency is the primary means by which election administration uniquely impacts this group. Drawing on two rich survey datasets collected in 2015 and 2017, we offer descriptive evidence of the barriers individuals may encounter while trying to obtain an ID under North Dakota's law, and find that Native Americans are statistically less likely to have access to an ID than are whites. This gap is largely due to the requirement that an ID has a physical address and attendant difficulties in obtaining such an ID, given the remote nature of reservations. We bring needed attention to the impact of carefully crafted electoral rules on this often-overlooked group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-140
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 3 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Voter identification laws
  • indigenous politics
  • state politics
  • voting rights act


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