Kansas’ Top Court Rules: No Constitutional Right to Vote Exists!

In a recent ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a 2021 election law in part, while also reviving challenges to certain provisions and potentially halting one before the general election. The court’s decision on the ballot signature verification measure was met with strong dissent from three justices, who argued that the majority was ignoring the state constitution’s protection of the right to vote.

The contested measure requires election officials to match signatures on advance mail ballots with voter registration records. The majority of the court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, but they rejected arguments from voting rights groups that the measure violates state constitutional voting rights. Justice Caleb Stegall, writing for the majority, asserted that there is no fundamental right to vote enshrined in the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

In contrast, the high court unanimously sided with challengers of a provision that makes it a crime for someone to give the appearance of being an election official. Voting rights groups, including the Kansas League of Women Voters and Loud Light, argued that the measure suppresses free speech and their ability to register voters. The court faulted the new law for not requiring prosecutors to prove intent by a voter registration volunteer to misrepresent or deceive people into believing they’re an election official.

Because the lawsuit over the false impersonation law’s constitutionality is likely to succeed, the state Supreme Court ordered the lower court to reconsider issuing an emergency injunction against it. Martha Pint, president of the Kansas League of Women Voters, expressed hope that the lower court would block the provision before the general election, as the organization’s critical voter assistance work has been limited due to the ambiguous and threatening law.

The court also upheld a provision that limits individuals to collecting no more than 10 advance ballots to submit to election officials. Supporters argue this restriction combats “ballot harvesting” and limits voter fraud, while critics claim it’s a Republican reaction to baseless claims about the 2020 election’s validity. The GOP-led Legislature passed the provision over a veto by Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.