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Kansas Civic Groups Appeal Dismissal of Voter Suppression Lawsuit

Press Release / Last Updated:

TOPEKA, KS — The League of Women Voters of Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center appealed the Kansas Court of Appeals’ decision in League of Women Voters v. Schwab, Case No. 124378, which held that members of the Plaintiffs’ organizations do not have standing to challenge the unconstitutionality of this voter suppression law because they have not yet suffered an injury.  

Plaintiffs disagree because, as the dissenting opinion stated, under the majority opinion someone in Plaintiffs' organizations would need to be “arrested, charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison” before they could challenge the unconstitutionality of this Kansas law that makes it a possible felony if a bystander perceives lawful election activities as acting as an election official. The effect of the opinion is to limit or prevent any pre-enforcement challenges to unconstitutional laws.

By failing to address the unconstitutionality of the voter suppression laws, voting and fair election activities in Kansas will continue to be undermined, harming civic participation and imperiling democracy in Kansas. 

“Kansas voters rely on the League for important election information every year and currently the League in Kansas has paused all in-person voter registration activities, even ahead of our August primary elections,” said Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “In a critical election year, we need the court to strike down the law and make it clear that volunteer organizations can register voters without the threat of criminal or civil penalties.”

“An Appeals Court Judge confirmed our understanding that Kansans can be arrested and charged with a felony for registering voters, yet the majority opted to dismiss the case instead of protecting Kansans and our democracy from the unconstitutional voter suppression law,” said Davis Hammet, Loud Light president. “Now, thousands of young Kansans that Loud Light would have registered over the past year will show up on August 2nd to learn for the first time that they needed to register several weeks in advance. It’s like 2014 all over again when the state illegally suppressed over 35,000 Kansans from registering to vote.” 

“This opinion threatens the ability of organizations and individuals to bring challenges to the constitutionality of Kansas laws before their enforcement causes irreparable harm, especially impacting the fundamental right to participate in election activities and to vote, and thus Kansas Appleseed believes it must be appealed,” said Teresa Woody, Kansas Appleseed litigation director.

Barriers to voting and civic participation have long-term impacts. According to a new report from Kansas Appleseed on voter suppression in Kansas, there is a direct relationship between low voter turnout and community health outcomes. 

Plaintiffs are represented by Irigonergaray, Turney, and Revenaugh LLP, Elias Law Group LLP, and Perkins Coie LLP. Read the appeal.

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PRESS CONTACT: Shannon Augustus | [email protected] | (202)768-9578

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