On June 24, 2020, the ACLU of Kansas filed a lawsuit on behalf of voter advocacy nonprofit Loud Light and its founder and Executive Director Davis Hammett against Secretary of Scott Schwab for violating his office's obligation to follow the Kansas Open Records Act.
The suit came after a nearly 300-day wait for voter and provisional ballot information that courts have previously ruled are subject to public records law. Loud Light specifically had requested the names of provisional ballot voters and whether their ballots ultimately were counted.
“On September 4, 2019, Plaintiffs submitted a request to Defendant Schwab for the ELVIS Provisional Ballot Detail Report from the 2018 General Election,” the lawsuit reads. “Two hundred ninety-three (294) days later – and only in anticipation of this litigation -- Plaintiffs finally received a formal denial of their records request. But Defendant Schwab’s claims that the requested records are prohibited from release by law are without merit.”
A June 18 letter from the ACLU of Kansas to the Secretary of State’s office read in part, “It is our strong desire to resolve this matter without litigation and we will make every effort to work collaboratively with your office to avoid further legal action.”
The ACLU of Kansas and Mr. Hammet won a similar case in January of 2019 when a District Court judge ordered then-Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker to honor a formal request for lists of voters who had cast provisional ballots in the 2018 primary.
On July 24, 2020, the Shawnee County District Court ruled in favor of Loud Light and the ACLU of Kansas, finding that the Secretary of State’s disclosure of the ELVIS provisional ballot detail report of the 2018 general election is required under the Kansas Open Records Act. It ordered the Secretary of State to produce the report to the plaintiff by the next day.