Here’s part of my political notebook for Wednesday’s Herald – and I expect to hear more about the issue from Sen. Byron Dorgan because he’ll be visiting the Herald editorial board Tuesday afternoon.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has asked U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon to review the decision of Benson County officials to not have a polling place on the Spirit Lake Reservation this Election Day.
The County Board decided to close all but one polling place in the county, which will be in Minnewaukan on Nov. 2. The decision means Spirit Lake will be the only Indian reservation in the state without a polling place this year.
Earlier this week, Spirit Lake Tribe officials said they would seek an injunction asking a federal court to prevent Benson County from closing the reservationâ€™s polling place.
In a written statement, Dorgan said Benson County officialsâ€™ decision â€œwill disenfranchise American Indians.â€
He said he supports voting by mail, which counties were allowed to do under a bill passed by North Dakota Legislature in 2007 that requires no more than one polling site to be open on Election Day.
But Dorgan said he doesnâ€™t think that should be â€œan excuse for local officials to shut down polling locations where people can go and cast their votes.â€
He said there will only be 315 polling locations in the state this year, a 33 percent drop compared to the 469 that were open during the last non-presidential election year in 2006.
â€œSome counties say they are experimenting with these reductions in polling places, but elections are not â€˜experiments,â€™â€ Dorgan said. â€œI think there will be a lot of North Dakotans who will find it more difficult to cast their vote as a result of these actions.â€