[JURIST] Kansas district court judge Larry Hendricks [official website] on Friday ordered [opinion, PDF] a stop to Kansas' voting registration system that would have prevented more than 18,000 people from voting in federal elections for failing to follow particular registration rules. Hendricks ruled that the state's justification of avoiding voter fraud was far outweighed by the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, preventing Secretary of State Kris Kobach [official website] from formalizing the system into an administrative rule. ACLU staff attorney Sophia Lakin, part of the team to challenge the Kansas law, stated, "[t]his ruling is a victory for Kansas voters and a stinging rebuke of Secretary Kobach's repeated efforts to improperly use his authority to obstruct their access to the ballot. This decision recognizes that Kansans' right to vote in state and local elections should be honored, no matter what registration form they used." Kobach vowed to appeal the ruling, stating "I regard the decision as wrong ... and this decision stands in the way of protecting our elections."
Voting rights continue to be a contentious topic in anticipation of the coming presidential election. Earlier this month, a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion for preliminary injunction [complaint, PDF] challenging the New York law [text] that makes it a misdemeanor crime for voters to post pictures of their ballots on social media. The plaintiffs had challenged [JURIST report] the law last week, claiming that banning "ballot selfies" violates citizens' freedom of speech and expression and hinders the cultural movement that promotes taking pride in one's vote. In the past month similar laws banning the ballot selfie have been rejected in Michigan and New Hampshire [JURIST reports]. And earlier in October, a federal court denied an emergency motion [JURIST report] from North Carolina counties to extend the hours of early voting.