Lawsuit over Dodge City's polling place continues

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The ACLU says it's too early to dismiss a lawsuit against the Ford County Clerk over her handling of the single polling location in Dodge City.  The organization, suing clerk Debbie Cox on behalf of Dodge City High School senior Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, says the core of its case remains undecided.  Cox had asked the judge to dismiss the suit against her last month.

In September, Cox began the process to move Dodge City's sole polling location from the Civic Center in the middle of town to the Expo Center for the 2018 general election.  The Expo Center is outside the city's southern limits and more than a mile from the nearest bus stop.  About 40% of Dodge City residents rely on public transportation daily.

Despite the move and with dozens of observers from around the country present, the election seemed to go smoothly.  Cox's lawyers argue with the election over and no one hurt, there's nothing left to sue about.

In the motion to dismiss Cox's attorney writes, "With...the Defendant having publicly committed to returning the primary polling place to the centrally-located Civic Center and to opening at least one additional polling site by no later than the 2020 elections, this case is entirely moot."

The motion adds, the move "imposed no unconstitutional burden on any voter" because the "minor inconveniences that some voters might have experienced...represented nothing more than typical life vagaries."

But, this last week the ACLU asked the judge to continue with the case.  The ACLU says there are still plenty of problems.

In its written opposition, the ACLU says Cox failed to fix the problems associated with having just one voting site, something that is "forcing voters to contend with long lines and excessive wait times."

In addition, the ACLU calls into question Cox's word she'll add a second polling site, saying she made no guarantees.

"Defendant's motion to dismiss focuses solely on her use of the Expo Center as a polling location and fails to address allegations concerning the single-site voting system she has perpetuated since becoming Ford County Clerk."

Now, we wait to see what the judge decides in this case.  At the last hearing, he called into question Cox's handling of the ACLU's letter offering to provide voter assistance.  This is the email she forwarded to the Secretary of State's office with the comment LOL or "laugh out loud."  The judge said the court was troubled by her comment and the appearance she'd never even read the letter.  The court has set no date for ruling on these motions.