TOPEKA, KS – Today, the League of Women Voters of Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center filed a lawsuit challenging newly enacted voting laws in Kansas that will make it more difficult for Kansans to vote. House Bill 2183 and House Bill 2332 violate the Kansas Constitution by interfering with Kansans’ voting, due process, and free speech and association rights.
“Kansas saw incredible turnout numbers in the 2020 election, in large part due to the work of trusted nonpartisan organizations like the League to provide voters with accurate, timely election information. HB 2183 and HB 2332 threaten to undermine this progress by criminalizing the vital efforts of civic organizations,” said Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “These anti-voter bills will have a disproportionate effect on voters with disabilities, voters of color, voters whose first language is not English, student voters, and elderly voters.”
The lawsuit challenges four aspects in particular of the new voter suppression laws:
- Voter Education Restriction: It is now considered a crime to “give the appearance of being an election official.” This “false representation” provision would chill the free speech activities of organizations like the League of Women Voters of Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed, the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, and numerous other churches, community organizations, and concerned citizens provided to ensure every Kansan knows how to safely and effectively cast their ballot.
- Advocacy Ban: The distribution of applications to vote an advance ballot is now prohibited if materials are mailed from outside the state. This provision hinders the legitimate advocacy efforts of organizations working to get out the vote.
- 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 operating without any legal standard to guide them.
- 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.
“The Legislature secretively and haphazardly rushed through voter restrictions that criminalize healthy parts of our democracy, such as helping Kansans register to vote or helping a neighbor turn in their ballot,” said Davis Hammet, Loud Light president. “Loud Light has been working to improve Kansas election integrity for years, but these laws aren’t about election integrity. They’re barriers that block access to the ballot box and undermine the integrity of our democracy.”
Kansas saw record-setting numbers in the 2020 general election. Over 1.3 million Kansans voted (72% of all registered voters) with over 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.
“TILRC has worked since 1993 to improve accessibility for elderly and disabled voters in Kansas. Rather than address continuing access barriers to voting for elderly and disabled Kansans, the legislature has added procedural barriers to the process through discriminatory signature scrutiny and draconian ballot delivery limitations,” said Ami Hyten, Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center.
“The newly enacted laws show how intent the Kansas Legislature was to suppress Kansas voters and obstruct our constitutional rights,” said Jami Reever, Kansas Appleseed executive director. “All Kansans deserve to be trusted with our vote and to have our voices heard through accessible, strong, and legitimate elections.”
Plaintiffs are represented by Irigonergaray, Turney, and Revenaugh LLP and Perkins Coie LLP.
PRESS CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]
Afederal appeals court panel ruled in the League of Women Voters of Kansas case, Fish v. Schwab (previously Fish v. Kobach), that Kansas voters do not need to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote.