Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

From today’s NPR News:

A Kansas law that makes it a crime to impersonate an election official unconstitutionally interferes with voter outreach efforts, voting rights groups told the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Their argument was met with opposition from state officials, who say the law helps curb fraud.

Attorneys for both sides sparred in a court hearing over the constitutionality of a key component of Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting rights in the wake of unfounded claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election.

Lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly to pass House Bill 2183 in 2021 amid criticism it amounted to voter suppression. Under the law, it’s a felony to pretend to be an election official or to engage in conduct that causes other people to falsely believe someone is an election official.

Four voting rights groups say that effectively bans voter registration drives. That’s because their volunteers are often mistaken for election workers, despite identifying themselves otherwise — putting them at risk of prosecution.

The hearing took place on the final day for Kansans to register to vote in the state’s 2024 presidential preference primary election, which is scheduled for March 19.

Elizabeth Frost, an attorney arguing for the voting rights groups, asked the court to swiftly block the law or direct a lower court to do so.

“Every single day that goes by that the plaintiffs are under this threat is a harm not just to them,” she said, “but to the public.”

The law violates the First Amendment of voting rights groups, she said, and is overly vague and broad — making it liable to arbitrary enforcement by the courts and law enforcement. Voting rights groups say the law has caused them to cancel voter registration drives and other outreach activities because their volunteers are scared they could be prosecuted for helping people register to vote.

Read the complete story here.

By Editor