April 19, 2023

When the Kansas House Committee on Elections heard from the public on a bill limiting mail-in ballot collections, the will of Kansans could not have been more striking.

First, the committee heard from the one proponent who wanted to pass this restrictive bill—who joined through a video conference, representing a Florida-based think tank that routinely pushes voting restrictions in statehouses nationwide.

When she concluded and opponents of the bill got to speak, the committee heard from a dozen real Kansans, who took turns testifying against the bill. Collectively, they continuously reiterated that Kansans support safe, accessible elections.

They were right.

The popular vote is popular in Kansas.

The wave of Kansans who spoke against voting restrictions accurately represented the will of their neighbors; 70% of Kansans agree that voting should be easier, not harder.

The ACLU of Kansas recently conducted a survey to learn more about the will of Kansas voters. The study's results are clear: Kansans overwhelmingly support voting rights and bolstering our democracy.

Kansans know that voting is a fundamental Constitutional right. They also know that protecting voting rights is imperative to our democracy because free elections are the best way for voters to ensure accountability for elected officials.

This explains the fervor Kansans have for voting rights. Beyond 7-in-10 supporting making voting easier, over half of Kansans strongly agree in ensuring accessible voting. Additionally, when asked how much of a priority it was to make voting more accessible, over a third said it was a 9 or 10!

What divide? Kansas Republicans want accessible elections, too.

There’s a national narrative that making elections accessible is a partisan issue. At least in Kansas, voters aren’t supporting that.

Our poll found 51%—over half—of Kansas Republicans want to make it easier to vote in Kansas, not harder. Two-thirds (66%) believe our election officials need to take steps to protect the right to vote here in Kansas.

Not only do Kansas Republicans support protecting our democracy, but they’re also aligned on some of the most popular ways to do so.

Of Kansas Republicans polled, 7-in-10 supported increasing the number of polling locations across the state, while 66% want to ensure curbside voting is available at all polling locations.

This is a point of agreement among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Over two-thirds—a supermajority, if you will—of Republicans support these voting expansions, which aligns with the over 80% of Democrats and Independents who support these inclusive policies.

Prioritizing insight from communities of interest.

We ensured our polling represented all Kansans by oversampling specific communities whose voices can get drowned out in conventional polling methods.

This was doubly important because, historically, voting suppression has been directly aimed at disenfranchising voters of color. We then need to center those voices in understanding how to promote democracy.

Black and Hispanic voters were overwhelmingly supportive of policies that ensured voting access. Over 80% of these voters supported both increasing the number of polling locations and ensuring curbside voting was available for all locations. This includes 87% support from Black Kansans for both policies.

Both Black and Hispanic voters were more likely to prioritize voting access as well. Over 70% of both groups rated making voting more accessible as a 6 or higher out of 10. Nearly half (48%) of Hispanic voters rated it as a 9 or 10. Even more of Black voters—57%—rated it so highly.

Lawmakers have lost sight.

Let’s return to the scene at the capitol.

Ann Mah, a former Kansas representative, approaches the podium. She shares that she was a ranking member of the House Committee on Elections—the very committee for whom she was testifying.

She shares she was on the committee when House Bill 2158 passed in 2018, which allowed mailed ballots to be counted for three days after Election Day. That bill passed 40-0 in the Senate and 123-1 in the House. The bill being heard—HB 2056—would reverse these voting protections that were almost unanimously passed.

“At one time, everyone under this dome understood the importance of helping everyone vote.”

The ACLU of Kansas wants your voice to be REPRESENT!-ed.

Our democracy is under attack.

Despite their unpopularity, lawmakers are pushing bills that harm voting rights across the country, including three major bills here in Kansas just this session.

Encouragingly, Kansans are not only aligned on the importance of protecting voting rights, they also agree on some of the best ways to do so. Even more hopeful, they’re passionate about the protecting our democracy.
We want to create action that supports the will of these Kansans. That’s why we’re launching a multi-year, multi-faceted campaign called REPRESENT! Reclaiming Our Vote and Restoring Our Democracy.

Kansans know that the constitutional right to vote is the heart of our democracy, and free and fair elections uphold our system of governance. We want to support Kansans to live out these values in their communities and across the state.

To kick off this campaign, we’ll be traveling to communities across the state. Please join us when we’re near you:
Wyandotte County, April 22
Shawnee County, April 24
Johnson County, May 2
Ellis County, May 4
Sedgwick County, May 16

Kansans are united on the importance of free elections for our democracy. We hope this campaign helps unite us on working to preserve this imperative right.