Kansas appeals court reinstates lawsuit against ballot collection law Geopolitics News

Kansas appeals court reinstates lawsuit against ballot collection law

The Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday reinstated a lawsuit that challenged provisions of a voting law enacted in 2021 that opponents say is unconstitutional and limits voting rights.

The lawsuit was filed in 2021 by Loud Light, the League of Women Voters of Kansas, the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center and the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

They challenged provisions of a law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature that limit the number of advance mail-in ballots individuals can collect and require election officials to match signatures on a ballot. advance to a person’s voter registration record.


Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach said Friday he would appeal the decision.

Proponents of the law argued that preventing individuals from collecting and returning more than 10 early ballots per election would reduce “ballot harvesting” and limit voter fraud. Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly vetoed the measure, but lawmakers overruled her veto.

Friday’s unanimous opinion, written by Justice Stephen Hill, said both provisions infringe the right to vote.

“It was by free elections that we gained statehood. Thus the right to vote is preserved in the Kansas Constitution,” Hill wrote. “You have to be very careful when you try to limit or infringe on those rights. Voting was important then. Voting is important now.”

The court returned the lawsuit to Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson, who originally dismissed it in April 2022 after finding the restrictions were reasonable. The decision does not invalidate the law. But it does require Watson to review the lawsuit using “strict scrutiny,” which is the highest standard of legal scrutiny.

Kobach called the decision “the most sweeping election law decision in the country.” He said the signature verification requirement protects people from having their votes stolen. He did not address the provision limiting the collection of ballots.

The Kansas Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit challenging state rules limiting mail-in ballot deposits.

“This is clearly untrue,” Kobach said in a statement. “The decision is directly contrary to what the Supreme Court of the United States has said, as well as what every state Supreme Court has said on the matter.”

Davis Hammet, executive director of Loud Light, noted that the decision did not address whether the law was constitutional, but said it was still a victory for voters.

“He clarified that the right to vote is a fundamental constitutional right and said that when election laws are challenged, the courts will apply the highest level of review to those laws,” Hammet said.

Hammet said the decision is particularly significant following baseless claims that the 2020 election was invalid, which sparked a wave of misinformation and voter suppression laws across the country.

“What the court said here is that (lawmakers) can’t just restrict the right to vote,” he said. “If you have a restriction, it has to be there for a compelling reason. You have to show that you’re not just stopping people from voting or that their votes matter.”

Jacqueline Lightcap, co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said the ruling supports many of the arguments voting advocates have been making since 2021.

“We think the judge has a great case in saying that voting is a basic right and that the previous case was kicked out of district court,” Lightcap said. “We are very happy to have the chance to have him heard again.”


Secretary of State Scott Schwab said his office is reviewing the decision, but said it “appears to be a substantial change to the judicial standard for reviewing state election laws.”

Kansas House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Republican from Wichita, called the decision “shocking” and said it endangers all current election integrity laws.

“I am confident that Attorney General Kobach will quickly appeal this egregious decision and that Republicans in the House will support his efforts in any way possible,” Hawkins said.


The Kansas Supreme Court last month heard arguments over another provision of the law, which makes it a crime to impersonate election officials. Opponents said the provision would make it difficult to conduct voter registration campaigns.

Kansas appeals court reinstates lawsuit against ballot collection law

Source link