Kansas legislators have approved two bills to tighten voting laws and are considering a third, joining the wave of Republican-led legislation across the country. Voting rights activists oppose the bills, arguing that it could result in reduced voting access.
House Bill 2183, as amended by the Senate, makes it a crime to deliver more than five absentee ballots for others. House Bill 2332 was passed to ban the governor, judiciary and executive branch from changing Kansas’ election laws.
“The attempt to consolidate all election power into the legislature and block judicial review may be an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers,” said Davis Hammet, the president of Loud Light, in a video posted April 11 about the first bill.
As of March 24, there have been 361 bills introduced across the country to restrict voting access, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The bills were introduced after former President Trump claimed that fraud led to his losing the 2020 presidential election against Joe Biden. The states that have seen the greatest number of restrictive bills are Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania — all of which flipped from red states to blue in the 2020 presidential election.
“I’m in this room every day and I’m the only African-American person in this room every day, and my mother marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and fought for voting rights. We should be making voting easier, not harder and not confusing,” Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, said in a hearing March 24.
Another bill being considered, Senate Bill 307, would require that all ballots must be received by the time the polls close on election night. Under current law, there is a three-day period in which late ballots would still be counted as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.
"There is no justification for this bill. I don’t know what the intentions of this bill are but I know the impact will undoubtedly be voter suppression,” Hammet said in testimony against the bill on March 26.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas called SB 307 “concerning” and is encouraging people to contact their representative advocating against the bill. The bill has yet to be voted on in the Kansas Senate.