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KANSAS CIVIC GROUPS FILE IMMEDIATE APPEAL OF LAWSUIT AGAINST VOTER SUPPRESSION LAWS AFTER WRONGFUL DISMISSAL

Press Release / Last Updated:

TOPEKA, KS – Yesterday evening, the League of Women Voters of Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center filed an immediate appeal of their lawsuit challenging voting laws in Kansas after the wrongful dismissal in the district court. Passed in the 2021 legislative session, House Bill 2183 and House Bill 2332 violate the Kansas Constitution by interfering with Kansans’ voting, due process and free speech and association rights. 

“With primary elections just around the corner, voters need swift action to protect them against these anti-voter laws,” said Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The longer justice for voters is delayed, the less time we have to educate them on how to make their voices heard in the election.”

“The district court's dismissal of these claims means Kansans' rights to vote and exercise political free speech remain under attack,” said Teresa Woody, Kansas Appleseed Litigation Director. “The state's enactment of these cynical statutes, where evidence of election fraud is non-existent, unconstitutionally stifles Kansans' votes and access to the polls."

“After nearly a year of delays in the district court, we look forward to moving our case to the appeals court,” said Davis Hammet, Loud Light president. “The quicker the legal process moves, the sooner Kansas voters can receive justice.” 

While the lawsuit challenges four aspects of the voter suppression laws, only two have been dismissed: 

  1. Signature Rejection Requirement: The new mandated signature-match regime could lead to the disqualification of a significant number of ballots each election based on the opinion of untrained election workers working without any legal standard to guide them.
  2. Delivery Assistance Ban: Kansans are no longer permitted to assist in the collection of 10 or more advance ballots, disproportionately harming Kansans with disabilities, rural Kansans, and those living on tribal lands. 

This case has been fully briefed for over 100 days; however, only after plaintiffs submitted a motion for temporary injunction in an attempt to expedite the resolution for voters before the consequential August primary election did the district court take action. The court dismissed the defendant’s claims without hearing the full evidence as to how these bills disrupt Kansan’s constitutional freedoms. The district court refused, on several occasions, to grant the Plaintiffs’ repeated requests to expedite the proceedings before her. 

The other two aspects of the law being challenged have moved out of the district court. An appeal of the temporary injunction regarding the Voter Education Restriction is currently pending before the Kansas Court of Appeals. The Advocacy Ban, which prohibited some advanced mail ballot applications from being sent to voters, has already been ruled unconstitutional by the federal judiciary and the state has agreed not to enforce it in a binding consent decree.

Kansas saw record-setting numbers in the 2020 general election. More than 1.3 million Kansans voted (72% of all registered voters) with more than 450,000 voting by mail using an advance ballot and another 370,000 returning their advance ballots in person. HB 2183 and HB 2332 would erode the turnout gains of 2020 by hindering organizations that inform and assist voters. In fact, it has been nearly 300 days since organizational Plaintiffs Loud Light and the League of Women Voters have been able to lead statewide voter registration drives ahead of the 2022 election. 

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

View the complaint.

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About League of Women Voters of Kansas: The League of Women Voters of Kansas is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Learn more at LWVK.org and find voter information at VOTE411.org. 

About Loud Light: Loud Light engages, educates, and empowers individuals from underrepresented populations to build community power that has an impact on decision makers. We’re Transforming Kansas through voter registration, informative videos, coalition building, civic engagement, and youth voter turnout. Learn more at www.loudlight.org.

About Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice: Kansas Appleseed is a statewide organization that believes Kansans, working together, can build a state full of thriving, inclusive, and just communities. Kansas Appleseed conducts policy research and analysis and works with communities and partners to understand the root causes of problems and advocate for comprehensive solutions. For more information, visit www.kansasappleseed.org.

About the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center: The Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is a human and civil rights organization with a mission to advocate for justice, equality and essential services for a fully integrated and accessible society for all people with disabilities. For more information, please visit www.tilrc.org

 

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