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Associated Press, Published October 23 2010

North Dakota reservation voting sites ordered open

BISMARCK – A federal judge has ruled that Benson County must open two polling sites on an American Indian reservation for the Nov. 2 election, though he says the county’s decision to close them wasn’t tied to racial discrimination.

Judge Ralph Erickson said in his ruling dated Thursday that sites in Fort Totten and Warwick will be open to voters, though a third contested site in Oberon is off the Spirit Lake reservation and will remain closed.

The county decided to have only one polling site, in the county seat of Minnewaukan, to save money, a move that complies with state law. The tribe took the case to court, arguing the decision would hurt Indian voting and continue a “history of official racial discrimination in voting.”

County Auditor Bonnie Erickson said she will comply with the order.

“I’ll be working towards getting those polling sites set up,” she said.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., also pushed for the reservation sites to be open.

Erickson’s ruling does not change the county’s decision to close four other polling sites in the county not on the reservation.

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