Lauren Bonds, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, has sued Johnson County for lists of its provisional ballots and advance mail ballots in the state’s August primary.
The case seeks to see if provisional ballots were counted correctly and check advance ballots rejected because their signature didn’t match their voter records. Johnson County was a deciding factor in handing the Republican governor’s nomination to Kris Kobach in a close race with Gov. Jeff Colyer, decided a week later by only 350 votes.
“We aren’t asking to see who they voted for or any private information,” said Bonds, who grew up in Hutchinson. “That information should be afforded the utmost privacy. However, people should know whether their vote counted or if people faced any unnecessary barriers to voting. The public interest here is just transparency.”
The ACLU filed the lawsuit today in Johnson County District Court, on behalf of Davis Hammet, president of Loud Light, a civic engagement nonprofit focusing on increasing voter turnout, and named Ronnie Metsker, Johnson County Elections Commissioner, as defendant.
Metsker denied a request by Hammet to review the voting documents under the Kansas Open Records Act, according to the lawsuit.
Bonds, in the lawsuit, argues that the closure of the lists would conflict with the National Voter Registration Act. That act requires states to maintain and make available for public inspection the names of registered voters and whether they voted in the two most recent federal presidential elections.
The suit also cites multiple statutes stating that this information should be accessible for review.
Bonds also claims Metsker’s denial of the records appears to contradict the Sec. of State’s own practices -- that office discloses an individual voter’s history online, including whether a voter cast a provisional ballot.