North Dakota’s 2021 legislative redistricting plan violates the rights of two Native American tribes because it dilutes their voting strength, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Chief Judge Peter Welte said the redrawn legislative districts violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The ruling came months after a trial held in June in Fargo.
In his ruling, Welte said the plan approved by the state Legislature to redraw voting districts in accordance with the latest census data “prevents Native American voters from having an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice” – a violation of the landmark civil rights law.
Welte gave the Republican-controlled Legislature and the secretary of state until Dec. 22 “to adopt a plan to remedy the violation.”
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Tribe alleged the 2021 redistricting map “simultaneously packs Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians members into one house district, and cracks Spirit Lake Tribe members out of any majority Native house district.”
The two tribes sought a joint district and unsuccessfully proposed to the Legislature a single legislative district encompassing the two reservations,