Two elderly northeast Kansas men have dropped a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, with a trial in federal court not set until next year. Attorney Jim Lawing said Thursday that Arthur Spry and Charles Hamner asked to have the case dismissed because the case would not be heard before this year’s elections. Also, he said, they found requests for personal information too intrusive. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil in Kansas City, Kansas, granted their request Wednesday for a dismissal. The judge was still considering whether the case should be heard in federal court or state court, as the two men had wanted. Spry and Hamner, both over 80, live in a retirement home in Overbrook, about 20 miles southeast of Topeka. They sued Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the state’s top elections official and the architect of the photo ID law, after Osage County officials refused to count their votes in the November 2012. The two men couldn’t produce a valid photo ID.
Their litigation said the requirement is “a pernicious attack” on the voting rights of Kansans who, like them, don’t have cars or easy access to the Internet to obtain a free state ID. They alleged their right to equal protection under the law had been violated. “There was no way we could get a timely ruling,” Lawing said. “They couldn’t go any further.”
Kobach said the two men would have had a difficult time prevailing. He noted that the state constitution requires the Legislature to “provide by law for proper proofs” of a person’s right to vote. Also, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to a voter ID law in Indiana.
“They didn’t have a good legal hook to hang their argument on,” Kobach said during an interview. “They had so many obstacles that they just couldn’t overcome.”