Kansas Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates ballot-withdrawal lawsuit

The Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday reinstated a lawsuit challenging provisions of a 2021 election law that opponents deem unconstitutional and restricting 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 limits how many pre-mailer ballots people can collect and requires election officials to match signatures on a pre-ballot against an individual’s voter registration.


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

Proponents of the law argued that restricting individuals to collect and return more than 10 early ballots per election would reduce “ballot collection” and limit voter fraud. Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed her, but lawmakers overrode her veto.

Friday’s unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Stephen Hill, says the two provisions affect voting rights.

“Through free elections we gained statehood. Therefore, voting rights are preserved in the Kansas Constitution,” Hill wrote. “Great caution must be exercised in attempting to limit or violate these rights. Voting was important back then. Voting is important today.”

The court remanded the lawsuit to Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson, who originally dismissed it in April 2022 after finding that the restrictions were reasonable. The judgment does not repeal the law. But it requires Watson to review the lawsuit with “rigorous scrutiny,” which is the highest standard of legal review.

Kobach called the verdict “the most radical electoral law decision in the country”. He said the signature verification requirement protects people from having their votes stolen. He did not address the provision restricting the collection of ballot papers.

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

“This is clearly wrong,” Kobach said in a statement. “The decision directly contradicts what the U.S. Supreme Court has said, as well as what every state Supreme Court has said on the matter.”

Loud Light chief executive Davis Hammet noted that the ruling did not address whether the law was constitutional, but said it was still a win for voters.

“It has been made clear that the right to vote is a fundamental constitutional right and said that if electoral laws are challenged, the courts will examine those laws to the highest level,” Hammet said.

Hammet said the ruling was particularly important after unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election were invalid, prompting a wave of misinformation and voter-suppression laws across the country.

“What the court has said here is that[legislatures]cannot simply restrict the right to vote,” he said. “If you have a limitation, there has to be a compelling reason. You have to show that you’re not just stopping people from voting or making their votes count.”

Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said the ruling supports many arguments that pro-suffrage advocates have made since 2021.

“We think the judge has some excellent points when he says voting is a fundamental right and the earlier case was hastily dismissed by the district court,” Lightcap said. “We’re really excited to have the chance to make it heard again.”


Secretary of State Scott Schwab said his office was reviewing the decision but said it “appears to be a significant change in the standard of justice in reviewing state election laws.”

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

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


The Kansas Supreme Court last month heard arguments about another provision of the law that makes it a crime to impersonate an election official. Opponents said the provision would make it more difficult to conduct voter registration campaigns.

Source : www.foxnews.com

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