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KMUW News brings you the latest candidate information and resources on how to vote in the 2020 elections.

Judge Rules Kansas Polling Site Buffer Zone Constitutional

Hugo Phan
KMUW/File photo

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas law that prohibits electioneering within a 250-foot buffer zone of a polling location is constitutional and does not infringe on the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter dismissed the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Johnson County election commissioner.

In her ruling, Teeter cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Burson v. Freemen, that rejected a challenge to a similar Tennessee statute. The nation’s highest court found that a buffer zone at polling places was necessary to protect the fundamental right "of an election free from the taint of intimidation and fraud."

Teeter noted the Kansas electioneering has also stood unchallenged for nearly 60 years, and that all 50 states have similar laws.

"I appreciate Judge Teeter’s ruling that the Constitution permits, and history and common sense favor, these sorts of laws that preserve the right to vote and ensure the integrity of Kansas elections," Schmidt said in a news release. "These laws permit all eligible voters to make their voices heard without intimidation, which goes to the heart and soul of our democratic process."

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