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Associated Press, Published October 22 2010

Judge orders Spirit Lake reservation voting sites open

GRAND FORKS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Benson County must open two polling sites on the Spirit Lake reservation for the Nov. 2 election.

Judge Ralph Erickson says in his ruling that sites in Fort Totten and Warwick will be open to voters.

The county decided to have only one polling site, in Minnewaukan, to save money. The tribe took the case to court, arguing that the decision continues a "history of official racial discrimination in voting."

Erickson says there is no evidence of intentional discrimination. But he also says it's too late to hold a trial on how American Indian voters would be affected by no polling sites, so the county "must accommodate the voting concerns of the tribe."

Sen. Byron Dorgan also pushed for the reservation sites to be open. He says Erickson did the right thing.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.