TOPEKA - (October 15, 2020) - As the November
3 election approaches, Kansas has backed successful efforts to prevent
plaintiffs and courts from making last-minute changes to election rules through
litigation, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.
“As the courts long have recognized, there
comes a point where the election is so near that judicial injunctions or other
actions that change the rules are fundamentally unfair and improperly disrupt
an orderly election process,” Schmidt said. “This year has seen an unusual
amount of litigation seeking changes in election rules in states around the
country, and we will remain vigilant in efforts to ensure the integrity of the
election process is not called into question by these last-minute lawsuits.”
To date, Kansas has joined in filing briefs
in five cases seeking to prevent courts from ordering election changes that
could disrupt the orderly conduct of the election. In four of those cases,
appellate courts have agreed with Kansas and blocked lower-court orders that
would have changed election rules. Those four cases are:
In Indiana, a federal district court
enjoined Indiana’s election-day receipt deadline for absentee ballots and
imposed a postmark deadline for all absentee ballots received by November 13,
10 days after the election. Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the 7th Circuit reversed the lower court’s order, keeping the
election-day receipt deadline in place. The case is Common Cause Indiana and
Indiana State Conference of the NAACP v. Lawson.
· In Alabama, a federal district court struck down the
secretary of state’s prohibition on curbside voting, as well as witness and
photo ID requirements for absentee ballots. Earlier this week, the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the 11th Circuit stayed the lower-court ruling on
absentee ballots, but let stand the ruling that would permit curbside voting.
Alabama intends to appeal the curbside matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying
the practice breaks the chain of custody of ballots and threatens election
security. The case is People First of Alabama v. Merrill.
In Arizona, a federal district court
enjoined the state’s law requiring absentee ballots to be signed and received
by 7 p.m. on election day. The court also ordered Arizona to create and institute
a new procedure that would grant voters who failed to sign their ballots up to
five days after the election to correct the error. Finding Arizona was likely
to prevail in the litigation on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th
Circuit last week issued a stay of the district court’s order. The case is Arizona
Democratic Party v. Hobbs.
In Georgia, a federal district court had
ordered the state to count absentee ballots that were postmarked and received
within three days of the election, despite a state law requiring ballots to be
received by 7 p.m. election day to be counted. Finding Georgia was likely to
prevail in the litigation on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th
Circuit last week stayed the lower-court decision. The case is The New
Georgia Project v. Raffensperger.
One other case remains pending. In that case,
the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling requiring the secretary of state
to accept absentee ballots up to three days after the election provided they
were not postmarked after November 3. That case, Scarnati v. Broockvar,
has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In addition, Schmidt's office on October 7
successfully defended against a lawsuit seeking to strike down the longstanding
Kansas law that prohibits electioneering near polling places. In that case, Clark
et al v. Schmidt et al, the federal district court in Topeka entered
summary judgement in favor of Kansas.