In December 2020, the ACLU of Kansas brought a suit on behalf of 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 (KORA).
The lawsuit came less than five months after the district court’s ruling in a previous case, Loud Light & Hammet v. Schwab, finding that Mr. Schwab was required to produce a 2018 report of provisional ballot data under KORA. The court’s decision in the previous case, which came in July, ordered Sec. Schwab to produce the report.
A month following the court’s ruling, after submitting a KORA request for the 2020 version of the same provision ballot report, Mr. Hammet learned that the Sec. Schwab’s office instituted software changes that removed the functionality to produce future provisional ballot reports. Sec. Schwab also informed Mr. Hammet that he could only acquire the public record if he paid for the software code to be rewritten – after the 2020 election.
In its filing, the ACLU of Kansas requests that the Court find that Sec. Schwab violated election record retention requirements and enforce access to public records under KORA.
On October 13, the Shawnee County District Court judge denied the ACLU's motion for summary judgment. The ACLU of Kansas filed a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals of the State of Kansas on November 5.
Oral argument was held before the Kansas Court of Appeals on June 13, 2022.
On July 22, 2022, a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Loud Light and Hammet, thereby reversing a district court judgment and ordering one in Hammet’s favor. The Court noted that the record Hammet requested – the provisional ballot detail report – was subject to KORA and needed to be disclosed, and held that Secretary Schwab violated KORA by turning off his office’s ability to access that record. The Court remanded to Shawnee County District Court Judge Watson with instructions to order Schwab to turn the office’s access to the record back on, “so the public can have access to that public record.”