The Kansas Supreme Court has granted permission for a legal challenge to be brought against a voting law that was enacted in 2021. According to the Associated Press, this law criminalizes the act of impersonating an elections official. It is one of several voting laws that were passed by the Republican-led legislature in Kansas last year. The law was introduced in response to concerns raised during the 2020 elections.
Despite the efforts of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, to veto these laws, her decision was overturned by the state legislature. However, voting rights groups have subsequently taken the laws to court, contesting their validity. The specific law in question in this case prohibits any behavior that may give the impression of being an election official. It encompasses actions that could lead others to believe that someone is an election official. The challenge against this law is based on the argument that it obstructs voter registration.
The AP reported:
“Four groups argued in the lawsuit that their members could be prosecuted even if they were clear that they were not election officials but others still mistakenly believed they were.”
The lower court had already dismissed the lawsuit, stating that the left-wing groups did not have the legal standing to challenge the law as they had not suffered any harm as a result of it. One of the requirements to bring such a case is to demonstrate that one has been adversely affected by the law. Nevertheless, the voting rights groups have now escalated the matter to the Kansas Supreme Court.
The justices of the highest court have made the decision to permit the legal challenge to proceed. They justified their decision by pointing out the ambiguity of the law, which warranted further examination.
The case was originally expected to resume at the appellate court level.
Nevertheless, it seems that the Kansas Supreme Court may take matters into its own hands and make a decision on the issue. According to a report from The Kansas City Star, the state Supreme Court has reversed the Kansas Court of Appeals’ decision to dismiss the challenge and has sent the case back to the appeals court. However, Chief Justice Marla Luckert later issued an order pausing the directive in the opinion and indicating that the court intends to transfer the case back to itself.
This suggests that the Supreme Court may rule on the law without waiting for the Court of Appeals to rule first. As of now, it remains uncertain how this situation will unfold. Nonetheless, this development has given hope to voting rights groups, such as Loud Light, who are challenging the law. In a statement, Loud Light expressed optimism that they may now have the opportunity to eliminate this law.
“While we’re excited about the victory, we also can’t wait for a resolution on this so that we can get back to safely registering voters.”