Kansas Anti-Voter Law Targeting Civic Engagement Groups Struck Down

The state flag of Kansas with a sunburst in the background.

Nonpartisan civic engagement groups, which assist citizens in their efforts to engage with the political process, have long played a vital role in our democracy. Yet their endeavors are increasingly coming under attack by state legislatures across the country. 

In a victory for the voters of Kansas, a federal court hampered this anti-democratic effort when it sided with the Voter Participation Center (VPC) to permanently block the enforcement of anti-voter provisions in HB 2332, a law that prohibited out-of-state entities from mailing advance mail ballot applications to any voter in the state. 

The court ruled that the law violated civic organizations’ ability to engage in voter engagement efforts that constitute core political speech under the First Amendment. 

Kansas’ law was part of a nationwide trend by state legislatures moving to restrict the freedom to vote by targeting civic engagement groups that help voters make their voice heard. This decision is a win for democracy and will make elections more accessible for Kansas voters.  

In 2021, the Voter Participation Center, a nonprofit civic-engagement organization which helps to register and turnout voters, including to vote by mail, filed suit against Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, and Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe.  

Later that year, the district court granted VPC a preliminary injunction, temporarily stopping the law from going into effect. With this most recent ruling, the district court has made that decision final. Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Kansas attorney Mark Johnson represented the non-profit. 

More information about the case can be found here. 

Adam is a Media Associate, Voting Rights and Redistricting at CLC.