Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have limited the number of advanced ballots one could help others turn in.
Proponents of the bill argued that it would make Kansas elections more secure, while opponents criticized the bill as voter suppression.
“Although Kansans have cast millions of ballots over the last decade, there remains no evidence of significant voter fraud in Kansas,” Kelly said in a news release. “This bill is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
There has been a wave of legislation targeting absentee ballots across the country following the 2020 election. The Brennan Center for Justice has tracked 361 bills in 47 states that would restrict access to voting in 2021.
The vetoed bill, HB 2183, would have made it illegal for someone to turn in more than 10 ballots for other people. It also would have removed the Secretary of State’s ability to extend advance ballot deadlines.
Kelly said the bill would harm the state.
“Hundreds of major companies across the nation have made it abundantly clear that this kind of legislation is wrong,” Kelly said. “Antagonizing the very businesses Kansas is trying to recruit is not how we continue to grow our economy.”
A bill restricting access to voting passed in Georgia and has led to backlash and boycotts from corporations in the state. Notably, Major League Baseball decided to move the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado after the bill was passed.
Republicans expressed frustration with the veto.
“It’s disappointing that the governor has decided to use her veto pen to placate the hard left rather than support mainstream policies supported by most Kansans,” said Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican from Andover, in a news release.
HB 2183 primarily targeted early voting and turning in ballots for others. Over 500,000 advanced ballots were sent to Kansans in 2020, more than the previous election, largely due to COVID-19’s impact.
“[The bill] is designed to disenfranchise Kansans, making it difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud,” Kelly said.