BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A trial has been set in a federal lawsuit brought by two Native American tribes that allege North Dakota’s new legislative map dilutes tribal members’ voting strength.
The bench trial is scheduled for June 12, 2023. A bench trial means the verdict is up to the judge alone.
The lawsuit filed in February by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the Spirit Lake Tribe alleges that the state’s new legislative map violates the Voting Rights Act.
The Legislature during its special session last fall approved the map , based on updated census data. The map includes the new House subdistricts for the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain Indian reservations.
Turtle Mountain argues the split House district “packs” tribal members into a single subdistrict on its reservation, while diluting their vote in the non-reservation subdistrict. Spirit Lake alleges the new redistricting map dilutes American Indian voters on and near its reservation.
A federal judge in July dismissed the state’s argument that the tribes lacked the standing to sue.
Tim Purdon, an attorney for the tribes, said about half of the 14-member GOP-led redistricting committee will be called as witnesses in the trial. He would not name them.