ACLU Says Voting Problems in Arizona and North Dakota May Have Biggest Impact

(Bloomberg) -- Amid allegations of voting-rights violations across the U.S. two weeks before midterm elections, the American Civil Liberties Union said actions by Arizona and North Dakota may have the biggest impact nationally.

Republican officials trying to limit access for Democratic-leaning voters will get the most “bang for their buck” from a new voter-identification law in North Dakota and an out-of-date voter database in Arizona, the ACLU said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

In North Dakota, where Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is defending her seat against Republican challenger Kevin Cramer and trailing in recent polls, tens of thousands of people may not be allowed to vote because American Indian tribal IDs may not include traditional street addresses as required under the new law, the ACLU’s Dale Ho said on the call.

Ho said that even a small number of rejected ballots could make a “big difference” in North Dakota, which has fewer than 800,000 residents.

Republicans currently hold a 51-49 seat advantage in the Senate.

In Arizona, where Republican Martha McSally is facing off against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema for the seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, about 300,000 people may "show up on Election Day only to find out they can’t cast a ballot," Ho said. That’s because the state’s voter database wasn’t automatically updated with new addresses provided to the Department of Motor Vehicles when voters moved, he said. The ACLU sued Arizona over the practice.

“All the changes that the ACLU has requested are scheduled to be implement next year,” said Matt Roberts, director of communications for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, who overseas the state’s elections. “It hasn’t impacted many people so far,” Roberts said by telephone.

A phone call left with North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office wasn’t immediately returned. Jaeger’s office notified the state’s five tribes by email in late September about the state’s ID requirements, the Associated Press reported Oct. 1.

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