Polling places may be required on ND reservations

Bismarck, North Dakota (AP) February 2011

A North Dakota Senate bill would require counties to open at least one polling place on each of the state’s American Indian reservations during elections.

Many rural North Dakota counties run elections almost entirely by mail.

New Rockford Sen. Joan Heckaman says it’s unreasonable to rely on mail voting on reservations that don’t have rural mail delivery or easy transportation.

Heckaman’s district includes part of the Spirit Lake Sioux reservation. The tribe sued Benson County last year when the county wouldn’t open a reservation polling place on Election Day.

The North Dakota Senate’s Judiciary Committee is reviewing the bill.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger opposes the measure. He says it would require some counties to open a polling place on the reservation when there are only a few eligible voters.