Kansas groups call for “transparency”, inclusion in redistribution process
TOPEKA, Kansas – As lawmakers hold a series of meetings at the Kansas Statehouse to draw lines for next year’s election, some Kansas groups are calling for transparency and greater inclusion in the redistribution process. ‘State.
“The people we elect reflect the knowledge and needs of the people they are there to serve,” said Ami Hyten, Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center.
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is a civil and human rights organization that advocates for a society more accessible to people with disabilities. The organization is one of many Kansas groups that have joined a lawsuit against a new election law that opponents say makes it more difficult for vulnerable communities to participate in the electoral process.
Hyten told the Kansas Capitol Bureau of FOX4 on Wednesday that the same changes needed to make voting more accessible to people with disabilities should be considered during redistribution hearings in the state.
“Make sure there is wheelchair access,” Hyten explained. “It’s more difficult for people with reduced mobility. “
Several Kansas commissions, including the Kansas Hispanic and Latin American Commission, the Kansas African American Commission, and the Kansas Disability Commission, sent a joint letter to the state redistribution committee on Monday, urging the community to engage in the redistribution process.
The letter describes several steps leaders said the committee should take to ensure participation.
Suggested steps outlined in the letter include:
- Hold hearings in an Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant space;
- Provide sign language and Spanish interpreters and inform the public of the availability of these services;
- Ensure that several meetings take place in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate work schedules;
- And including maps and / or statements submitted by communities of interest.
Leaders of the state’s redistribution committee have said accurate representation is a priority on both sides of the aisle.
“It is the goal of representative government, to have each of these individuals as close to equal representation as possible,” said Senate Speaker Ty Masterson, R-Andover.
Lawmakers approved 14 town halls before drawing lines next year to hear voters. People can come in person or submit their comments in writing.
“You divide a particular neighborhood or community of interest, you sort of find out these things with these town halls,” said House Minority Leader Representative Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita.
The date of the town hall meetings has not yet been set. However, people like Hyten are hopeful that lawmakers will take the necessary steps to ensure everyone is included.
“These are all really fundamental to our democratic process, and they’re all really important to people with disabilities, people with all kinds of marginalization,” Sawyer said.
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