North Dakota has had 911 addresses for over a decade. Why is this so hard?

// Read the next post in this voter disenfranchisement series. //

This is the spin: a recent Supreme Court ruling upheld a North Dakota law that said that in order to vote, you must have a valid ID with your location address on it. A P.O. box is not acceptable. The spin is that since Sen. Heitkamp didn't vote to affirm Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is punishing her with a ploy to disenfranchise voters on reservations who, apparently, use a PO box as the address on their ID and are more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket.

Let's be less paranoid for a little bit, and consider whether or not a DECADE or more is enough time to find out your location address.

My parents live in a rural area. The farm we grew up on never received mail delivery. We had no location-based mailing address most of my life. We had a P.O. box address and drove into town to get our mail. When we got orders from UPS, we had to have them delivered to the Cenex station in town since we did not have a physical address. In fact, prior to the E911 address system (and the year of its implementation during which shipping databases weren't fully updated with it), we had a real struggle getting packages delivered to the farm. Some drivers just knew where we lived and brought it there, others wouldn't. People who were on actual mail routes had addresses like "RR2 Box 4" or something of that nature, which is not a location address, but a mailing address.

In summary, my parents have a P.O. box mailing address, and a 911/location address that is not used for mail via USPS. They have two valid addresses for two different purposes. You send mail to the mailing address. You stop by the farm and visit my mom and get some homemade bread by using the location address.

Difficult Concept #1: Mailing addresses might be the same as your location addresses, but they don't have to be. First and foremost, they are MAILING addresses used by the United States Postal Service.

Rural people, whether native or white or on reservations or not, had similar issues with location addresses. This was a problem and it was recognized as such.

About 15 YEARS AGO or so, the ENTIRE STATE set up 911 addresses for every home using the Burkle addressing system. Let me repeat: EVERY HOME IN THE STATE WAS ASSIGNED A LOCATION ADDRESS. This was so when you called 911 and it went to (possibly) state radio or whatever dispatch received it that may not be familiar with your region, you didn't have to say "I live about five miles south of Nelsons, you turn next to the slanted light pole, by the hay bale, you know the Nelsons, right?"

Difficult Concept #2: For more than ten years, location addresses have been available for all people in North Dakota. The DMV and other agencies can be horrendous, but it doesn't even take them ten years to issue you an ID.

You are responsible for simply inquiring as to what your address is. Or, if you want, the tribe is responsible for letting you know what your address is. Whatever authority it is that you place over yourself, there the responsibility lies.

This means that any panic now to make use of that address is the fault of that authority, or you.

I mean, you could be the Native American guy (true story) who goes on Rachel Maddow's talking head show about this incident and claim racism and disenfranchisement and close with "Custer died for your sins" if you want to be that guy, but the address existed for about a decade.

A decade. How long has Custer been dying?

Difficult Concept #3: Take responsibility for your life and stop blaming the wrong entities. The information was available. 

You had to take the initiative to find out what your 911 address was, and so we did, back on the farm. It still wasn't our mailing address. We still had no mail delivery to the farm location. We understood this. But we could now use that location address to order things that were shipped via UPS. We also had to know our 911 address when we went into the town cafe to vote.


Go back and re-read that.

We had to sign our name and location address into the book. I can't remember if it was because our ID hadn't changed yet or if that's how it is still done. Regardless, we had to have it MEMORIZED.

It's a small town. Everyone knew who we were. They knew who should be voting and who shouldn't. But knowing that address and putting it down was part of the deal, because I remember my dad and I went in to vote and he forgot the full address and I had to rattle it off for him so he could put it in the register before going to vote.

Difficult Concept #4: Same as difficult concept #3, but with gusto.

10-15 years is plenty of time to find your location address. Everyone has a location address. I get that you might prefer a P.O. box for your mail, because I still use one for that very purpose, but you HAVE A LOCATION ADDRESS if you choose to find it.

Please note the directions to contact the 911 coordinator. That's because they knew your address all this time. 

It's worth noting that this voter ID law, though halted on its way through the courts, ought to have spurred some leadership on to think "you know, maybe we ought to just move forward with this and get our people some IDs with their location addresses" instead of waiting three weeks before an election.

Because Custer is tired of dying for all these sins in this name-it-and-blame-it religion that seems to fester in this nation.

You had over a decade to find your address. It was available. It existed. Your leaders knew. Other people knew. My old parents knew. IT'S IN THE CENTURY CODE.

So, in recap:

Do my parents have mail delivered to their rural home? No.

Do they get mail via USPS? Yes. But only to a P.O. box.

Do they have a location address? Yes.

Is it the same as their mailing address? No.

Do they have the location address on their license? Yes.

Did they take the time to find out their address and do this for themselves? Yes.

Was there a conspiracy to hide the location address from people? No.

Whose fault is it if people don't know their location address after a decade of the information being out there? The person. Or, if the tribe is to help their people, it's the tribe's fault. It's not the Supreme Court or Kevin Cramer, or whitey down the road.

That's the plain truth.

Call me a racist or whatever term it is that the barely-potty trained activists would use for someone like me for daring to speak unapologetically, but you can't get around the reality of how long ago location addresses were set in place. This is not some last minute attempt to keep people from voting, some impossible thing put on them in the final hours before the election, some last gasp from Custer. THE ADDRESSES EXISTED FOR MORE THAN A DECADE AND THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING IT!

Take some self-initiative and quit blaming people because you don't know your location address. This has nothing to do with Heitkamp, political parties, evil white man, or whatever other nonsense you make it out to be. If you have an ID with a P.O. box on it, you have the ability to have an ID and could have put the location address on it but you did not. Own your mistake.

"But Julie...."

If the tribe has haphazard roads without names and a true jumble of structures somehow not in the system, and they never bothered to give them location addresses, that's the tribe's fault, not the state. As a sovereign nation, they need to own that mistake. It's 2018 and Google practically knows when I use the restroom and we apparently have 5,000 people who have no location address? Backwater Bridge is on Google maps, but half the tribe isn't? That is the fault of their tribal leadership, and this frantic fix is of their own making.

If you are homeless or transient, that's another story. If that's the real reason there aren't a lot of folks with location addresses on their IDs, the tribes have a more serious problem than screaming at the Supreme Court about IDs necessary for voting. Get people in homes, homes with addresses. Maybe Rachel Maddow could buy a few.


UPDATE OCT 18, 2018: A guy just told me that it was only very recently that some reservations finished their 911 address system. I don't know if he's correct, but that's ridiculous. Guess whose fault it is that people don't have addresses? The tribe's. How's the saying go? A lack of planning on your part doesn't make an emergency on my part. A decade, and you're just finishing now in the final weeks before an election where it's necessary? Unreal.

Look, if you want to live in the past, fine. But don't pop your head into the present every few years and be angry that it isn't where you left it. Live in today and stop trying to blame people for things that happen if you don't. This is an age where you can find out every piece of information on a handheld computer with a touchscreen with satellites feeding back your exact location on the planet as you drive. Yeah, you're going to need a location address in today's world.

UPDATE OCT 23, 2018: I've been meaning to post this for a few days, but had forgotten. Anyway, SRST put out a flow chart to help people get their location ID. I love flow charts. I think this is great.

1. They are not disenfranchised. This tells me this isn't impossible to get an ID, no matter what they're telling the press. Even though it was at the last minute, the tribe gave them instructions and a plan and they have several weeks to make it happen.

In fact, this is very similar to getting a Real ID.

I bring that up because Real ID is something we all have to do in the coming two years, so yes. White people will have to go through similar hoops to meet those requirements. And yes, we'll grumble about it. And yes, some won't do it and then freak out near the deadline. The point is, we all have to do it.

2. Why did the tribe wait so long? Since this is clearly possible, connecting people to locations, why wait until the last minute? Again, that was their choice.

3. Did the tribe communicate with the media that they had the ability to fulfill location ID requirements, or did they paint a different picture? It is interesting to note that the recent CNN report that featured Standing Rock (spun, of course, to say it was all about disenfranchsing them) didn't cover the other tribes and reservations in the state. Why not go talk to MHA, or visit the Turtle Mountains and see what they did to prepare? It surely would have made their report a bit more solid, to present a general picture of how the tribes in the state responded instead of just, once again, using SRST as the mouthpiece for all Native Americans in the state. SRST is not all tribes. They do not speak for everyone, even if they speak the loudest. They are just one tribe. I would actually like to know what MHA, the Turtle Mt. Band of Chippewa, or Spirit Lake Tribe is doing in this regard. But CNN and other national media seemed to like the narrative that came out of the protest, and SRST is the only tribe they go to, it seems.

4. How politically active are the tribe members? Should others be blamed if they aren't interested? Sen. Heitkamp recently had a kind of community roundtable meeting in Mandan for Native Americans, which she promoted heavily for about five weeks through organization, press releases, and other outreach to the Native American community here. A person contacted me and said only five people came. Since I wasn't there to verify that there was only five, let's just say that attendance was poor.

I'm not knocking people for not going. I don't go to every event, either, if I'm not interested. I'm simply saying that if people aren't interested because of their own reasons, political leaders and manipulators shouldn't try to place a false reason on the results of that disinterest. Clear enough?

UPDATE OCT 25, 2018: Ha ha ha. I can't make this up. The usual celebrity suspects (Ruffalo, Woodley, etc.) from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest are coming to SRST for some kind of activism concert regarding the impossibility for folks there to vote. Never ones to miss an opportunity for some virtue signalling, I guess.

"The Stand-N-Vote campaign launched Wednesday features the actors and American Indian comedian Auntie Beachress announcing a concert Saturday by Matthews and Ruffalo on the Standing Rock reservation.

Organizers say the effort is in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision this month upholding North Dakota’s voter ID law, which requires a street address to vote. Many living on reservations have post office boxes and argue the law discriminates against Native Americans.

The concert will be livestreamed and tribal officials will be attending to provide required IDs. Organizers say additional events will be scheduled at other North Dakota reservations.

Woodley, Ruffalo and Matthews each spent time two years ago protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline."

I saw discussion of a comments section last week, in which a guy from SRST shared a photo of his tribal ID and it had -- brace yourself -- both a PO and location address on it, and he'd had it for a long time. Looks like it wasn't an impossible thing, folks.

But whatever.

Let me know when Woodley and Ruffalo dedicate long-term time, money, and publicity to help with issues of domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, and corruption. I'm sure it'll be white conservative North Dakota's fault somehow.

I gotta say, I totally agree with Ruffalo in this photo of him below:

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2, 2018: Once again, you gotta appreciate Scott Davis.

Just think -- this great voter turnout is because of a situation people were upset about. Funny how that kind of thing happens, when we think the worst thing ever actually ends up working out for good. And now, they will have IDs and can vote and so on. Hopefully, the tribes get started on Real ID right now, instead of waiting until 2020 so we don't have to do this all over again.


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