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US Supreme Court ruling could help Kansas defend voting laws

July 1, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday narrowing a landmark federal voting rights law could help Kansas defend election measures enacted by Republican state legislators.

That assessment came both from Republican state Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Mark Johnson, a veteran election-law attorney and adjunct law professor at the University of Kansas, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. The new state laws took effect Thursday and are being challenged in separate lawsuits in federal and state courts.

Among other things, Kansas now limits the number of absentee ballots people can deliver to election officials for others and bars out-of-state groups from mailing absentee ballot applications to voters. GOP lawmakers enacted the changes over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto and called them anti-fraud measures. Voting-rights groups say they hinder voter education and registration.

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The U.S. Supreme Court decision narrowed the Civil Rights-era federal Voting Rights Act’s scope.

Schmidt said the decision sends a strong message that states can take steps to secure their elections.

Johnson said the decision doesn’t help either Kansas lawsuit by changing how how courts approach such cases.

“Judges will say ‘Well, the Supreme Court isn’t too sympathetic to these types of cases and so there is no reason we have to be,’” he said.