Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez announced today that her office will not prosecute a recently enacted law that has had a chilling effect on vital work to inform and register Kansas voters.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Valdez said. “This law criminalizes essential efforts by trusted nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters to engage Kansans on participation in accessible, accountable and fair elections. It is too vague and too broad and threatens to create felons out of dedicated defenders of democracy.”
Among other things, the law makes it illegal for an individual to engage in conduct that gives the appearance or would cause someone to believe he or she is an elections official. However, Valdez said, “appearance” and “conduct” under this law are completely subjective and based on perception. The law doesn’t even require the “reasonable person” standard.
Additionally, while this may seem an effort to prevent someone from impersonating an elections official, that conduct is already illegal. The inevitable effect of the new law, Valdez said, will be weakened or depleted voter engagement efforts – and thus a less representative electorate.
“Normal, everyday, traditional political activities have been declared unlawful and can potentially carry a prison sentence,” Valdez said. “Even the charge itself is a public record. A felony conviction can affect things like employment and housing, not to mention the loss of voting rights.”