League of Women Voters in Kansas and nonprofits halt voter registration drives to avoid being jailed under new law
For more details on the story, including response, see this article in the Kansas Reflector newspaper on July 1, 2021.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas and other nonprofits are suspending voter registration drives for fear of criminal prosecution under a new state law. The groups filed a lawsuit over new election-related restrictions enacted by the Legislature this session, and a judge has yet to act on a request for a temporary injunction to block enforcement of the laws until the case is resolved. One of the provisions makes it a crime to engage in activity that “gives the appearance of being an election official.”
Without clarity from the court, the organizations argue in court filings, there is a “serious risk” that someone will mistake people who are knowledgeable about voter registration as election officials.
Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, says she has asked the organization’s nine local leaders to temporarily suspend their voter education and registration efforts.
“It’s very disheartening,” Lightcap said. “We’re not happy about it. We’re not pleased. We don’t want to do it. But at the same time, it needs to be known that this is not a good law.”
The League of Women Voters Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center filed a lawsuit June 1 in Shawnee County District Court challenging the constitutionality of the two bills. The groups on June 17 asked Judge Teresa Watson to issue a temporary injunction before the laws went into effect, but the judge has yet to rule on the request.