University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review


This note discusses the contentious issue of voter ID laws and their ability to disproportionately affect various racial and ethnic groups, with specific attention paid to such laws’ effects on Native Americans. Since the 2000 election catastrophe and subsequent changes to our election system, voter ID laws have become a hot-button issue. Many states have enacted voter ID laws in the years since, some of which have resulted in restrictive voting requirements that may result in disproportionately discriminatory voter disenfranchisement. This note willa first give a general overview of the complicated and convoluted recent development voter ID laws, a history of Native American disenfranchisement, and then compare the stories of voter ID laws used in the states of North Dakota and Washington, two states which both have high populations of indigenous citizens living both on reservations and on non-tribal lands. While North Dakota’s voter ID law requirements have worked in practice to discriminate many Native American citizens living on reservations, Washington’s recently amended voter ID law and other changes to its election laws have attempted to address these concerns efficiently and inexpensively, though more time is needed to see their true effect. The note will conclude by arguing that, while courts can help to eradicate these laws, a shift in the mindset of policymakers is the most effective and efficient way to eliminate targeted discrimination in our voting laws.