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US Judge Blocks Kansas Law On Mailed Ballot Applications

US Judge Blocks Kansas Law On Mailed Ballot Applications

A federal judge ordered Kansas on Friday to suspend a new law prohibiting outofstate groups from mailing advance ballot applications, siding with two national nonprofit groups that contend it disenfranchises voters.

BELLE PLAINE, Kan.: A federal judge ordered Kansas on Friday to suspend a new law prohibiting out-of-state groups from mailing advance ballot applications, siding with two national nonprofit groups that contend it disenfranchises voters.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil granted the preliminary injunction against the law sought by VoteAmerica and the Voter Participation Center. She also rejected the state’s efforts to dismiss the lawsuit.

She noted in her ruling the critical constitutional issues that still need to be decided in the case, finding that the public interest leans in favor of preliminarily blocking the law.

The law that is the focus of the litigation was one of two voting laws that were passed this year over the veto of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. It also makes it a crime to include the voters name, address and other information on advance ballot applications, even if the voter provided the information and requested an advance mail ballot application.

Nearly 70,000 Kansas voters submitted an advance mail voting application provided by the Voter Participation Center to their county election official in the 2020 general election, the lawsuit said. The nonprofit groups argued that sending out partially pre-filled applications helps to reduce the burden on would-be voters and reduces the chance for errors.

But election officials have testified that the flood of applications led to confusion, with many voters repeatedly requesting mail-in ballots.

In a separate state lawsuit challenging a different voting provision, Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson in September allowed the state to keep enforcing a new election law.

Watson denied four groups request to temporarily block the law, expressing strong doubts about arguments that it hinders efforts to register and educate Kansas voters. The groups, including the League of Women Voters of Kansas and the voting-rights organization Loud Light, are challenging a provision making impersonating an election official a felony.

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first published:November 20, 2021, 00:35 IST