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2 new lawsuits target Kansas congressional redistricting map

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Posted at 10:27 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 12:30:08-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two separate lawsuits were filed Monday targeting the new congressional map in Kansas.

The first was brought by several Kansas voters along with the organization Loud Light, which focuses on increasing civic engagement in youth, who have sued over the new congressional map in the state.

That lawsuit lists plaintiffs Faith Rivera, Diosselyn Tot-Velasquez, Kimberly Weaver, Paris Raite, Donnavan Dillon and Loud Light. They are suing defendants Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab and Wyandotte County election commissioner Michael Abbott.

It claims that the new map, which was vetoed by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly then overridden by the legislature, is a product of partisan gerrymandering, intended to favor Republicans and split up minority votes.

"This case is about politicians choosing their voters by manipulating district lines to secure their preferred electoral outcomes—despite the will of Kansas voters and at the expense of the political power of minority communities," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit specifically mentions two Kansas counties — Douglas and Wyandotte counties, both in the Kansas City area.

RELATED: Legal battle expected over Kansas congressional redistricting, Lawrence residents react

The lawsuit argues that the new congressional map splits up Democratic strongholds in those two counties.

"Most egregiously, with total disregard for their own redistricting guidelines and traditional redistricting principles, Republican legislators sliced Wyandotte County, Kansas’s most Democratic and populous majority-minority county, in half, splitting the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area into two districts, and submerging the city’s minority, Democratic, and urban voters in an expansive white, Republican, and rural district," the lawsuit reads.

RELATED: Wyandotte County residents react to redistricting developments

That lawsuit was joined by another brought by the ACLU of Kansas, which also focuses on the redistricting of Wyandotte County.

"We are filing suite in Wyandotte County District Court to block the partisan and racially gerrymandered Ad Astra redistricting map," the organization said in a post to social media.

Their suit makes a similar argument to the first.

"We argue that the new map cracks the most racially diverse county in Kansas in half in an attempt to dilute the voices of minority voters," the ACLU of Kansas said via social media. "This partisan map was passed in a rushed process that took less than two weeks, egregiously ignoring an abundance of public input."

A spokesperson for the Kansas attorney general released a statement on behalf of the office.

"Today's filings are no surprise. The plaintiffs are hoping state courts, which in the past have not reviewed federal congressional districts, will write new rules to their advantage," the spokesperson said. "As we have said before, we will vigorously defend the newly enacted law that establishes new congressional district boundaries."

The two lawsuits are so far the only challenges to the map.