With Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox’s filing this morning stating simply, “Plaintiffs have filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit without prejudice. Defendant does not oppose this motion,” more than a year of legal wrangling over voter access in Dodge City has come to an amicable end.
“We are so happy for our clients who bravely fought for voting access not just for themselves, but for their entire community,” said the ACLU of Kansas’ Interim Executive Director Lauren Bonds. “As we’ve said, everyone wins when everyone has equal voting access.”
The ACLU of Kansas filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit Jan. 25., after Cox publicly committed to opening two, new polling stations inside the city limits earlier that week.
Cox announced that she’d open sites at the Hoover Pavilion, 108 4th Ave., and at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 700 W. Frontview St.
The voluntary dismissal allows the plaintiffs, The League of United Latin American Citizens, Kansas (LULAC), and Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, to refile a claim if sufficient progress isn’t made on the promised poll sites, Bonds said.
This legal battle began nearly two years ago when Dodge City residents approached Cox about unequal voting access. The city has about 13,000 registered voters but only one voting location. The plaintiffs had sought four polling sites within the city limits.
Cox moved that lone polling site outside the city limits for the Nov. 6 midterm election last year because of planned construction at the original site. The move provoked criticism from constituents who contacted the ACLU of Kansas when they felt their complaints were not being addressed.
The ACLU of Kansas alleged in a lawsuit that voters, particularly the Hispanic electorate, were being disenfranchised. More than half of Dodge City’s population is Hispanic.