Sunday, January 29, 2017

Kansas Special Election Adds Urgency to Pending Court Cases

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for this post.

The Special Election for the Congressional seat formerly held by new CIA Director Mike Pompeo has added urgency to Pending Court decisions in multiple Federal Lawsuits challenging Restrictive Voter Registration requirements in Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback has called an April 11th Special Election to fill the 4th District seat, which represents Southern Kansas.

Preliminary Court Orders allowed Kansans who Registered using a Federal form or at Motor Vehicle Offices to vote in the November Election even if they didn't conform to a disputed Kansas Requirement to provide documentary Proof of Citizenship to vote, such as a Birth Certificate, Naturalization Papers, or a Passport.

The 4th Congressional District has nearly 427,000 Registered Voters, including those covered by the Court decisions.

This affects some 3,178 voters who registered without providing Proof of Citizenship, said Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman. Another 1,450 who used the State form to Register, but did not provide Citizenship documents, will not be allowed to vote unless they provide the documentation.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas said it believes the Federal Injunctions remain in effect for the Special Election as well.

Lehman said that's the case. "The instruction we have been given by the secretary of state's office is that, until we are told differently by a judge, the same rules will be in effect for this election as they were for the general (election) of 2016," said Lehman. "We will not do anything differently unless we have been told to by a judge."

The uncertainty comes in part because Federal Judges hearing three separate Cases unfolding in Kansas and in Washington, D.C., could rule on pending motions seeking Summary Judgment that could affect April's Special Election.

Here's where that Litigation stands:

— The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Preliminary Decision by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson that allowed people who Registered at Motor Vehicle offices to vote in the Primary and General Elections in a Case filed under the National Voter Registration Act. Robinson now has before her the ACLU's motion for a Partial summary Judgment on its Fourth Amendment claim that the Kansas' Proof-of-Citizenship law violates the Right to Travel because it places a discriminatory burden on the Voting Rights of Citizens who come to Kansas from other States.

— Also pending before Robinson is a related, earlier Case filed on behalf of a Kansas Voter challenging the State's Proof-of-Citizenship law as Unconstitutionally burdening the Right to Vote and the right to travel. Motions seeking a Summary Judgment have already been filed by both sides in that Case. The Parties have asked the Judge to hear Oral Arguments for a Summary Judgment together with the ACLU Case because some arguments overlap.

— A Federal Appeals Court in September preliminarily blocked Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama from requiring Residents to prove they are U.S. Citizens when Registering to vote using a National form. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia sided with the League of Women Voters and other Civil Rights Groups, returning it to the District Court for a full hearing on the merits. But U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has yet to rule on languishing motions for Summary Judgment filed months ago.

Any rulings in all the Cases are almost certain to be appealed.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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