Kansas recount confirms results in favor of abortion rights

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OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A decisive vote across the state Abortion rights advocate in traditionally conservative Kansas was confirmed with a partial hand recount, with fewer than 100 votes that changed after the county’s latest results reported Sunday.

Nine of the state’s 105 counties recounted their votes at the request of Melissa Leavitt, who has pushed for tougher electoral laws. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Mark Gietzen, covers most of the costs. Gietzen acknowledged in an interview that the outcome was unlikely to change.

A no vote in the referendum signified a desire to maintain existing abortion protections and a yes vote was to allow the legislature to tighten restrictions or ban abortion. After the recounts, “no” votes lost 87 votes and “yes” got 6 votes.

Eight of the provinces reported their results by the state deadline on Saturday, but Sedgwick County postponed releasing the final count until Sunday because spokeswoman Nicole Gibbs said some ballots were not segregated in the correct counties during the first recount and should be used Saturday. She said the number of votes cast has not changed in general.

A larger-than-expected voter turnout on Aug. 2 rejected a ballot measure that would have removed abortion rights protections from the Kansas Constitution and gave the legislature the right to further restrict or ban abortion. It failed by 18 percentage points, or 165,000 votes statewide.

The vote attracted widespread attention as it marked the first state referendum on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overthrown Roe v. Wade in June.

Gietzen, of Wichita, and Leavitt, of Colby, in far northwest Kansas, have both suggested that there may have been problems without pointing to many examples.

Recounts are increasingly being used to encourage supporters of a candidate or make them believe that an election has been stolen rather than lost. A wave of candidates who have repeated former President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged have called for recounts after losing their own Republican primaries.

Kansas law requires a recount if those who request it prove they can cover the counties’ expenses. The provinces only pay if the outcome changes.

Leavitt and Gietzen have provided credit cards to pay the nearly $120,000 cost, the State Department said. Leavitt has an online fundraising page. Gietzen also said he gets donations from a network built up over three decades in the anti-abortion movement.

Gietzen said on Sunday he will not accept the results of the Sedgwick County recount due to the discrepancy over how the ballots were sorted and because part of the recount took place Saturday without outside observers being present to watch.

“We still don’t know what happened in Sedgwick County. I won’t pay for Sedgwick County,” he said.

He said he was also concerned about the statewide results because of a report from Cherokee County in southeastern Kansas about the results of a county election that was converted between two candidates when the results were transferred to a USB flash drive. from one voting machine to a tabulating machine.

Gietzen said he plans to file a lawsuit Monday for a full statewide recall.

Gietzen said he will not publicly disclose the names of private donors helping him fund the recount, even though a state ethics officer says it is required. Gietzen, who leads a small GOP group called the Kansas Republican Assembly, claims he is not campaigning for the anti-abortion measure, but is instead promoting election integrity.

The votes were counted in Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas’ main campus; Johnson County, in suburban Kansas City; Sedgwick County, home of Wichita, Shawnee County, home of Topeka; and Crawford, Harvey, Jefferson, Lyon, and Thomas counties. Abortion opponents lost all those counties except Thomas.

In Jefferson County, the margin remained flat, with pro and anti-amendment totals falling four votes each. Linda Buttron, the district secretary, blames the change on things like not obscuring ovals and “the challenges of manually counting ballots.”

In Lyon County, the anti-amendment group lost a vote. County Clerk and election official Tammy Vopat said she was unsure of the reason. But she noted, “You have to account for human error.”

Johnson County, the most populous in Kansas, faced the greatest challenge in recounting because it had the most ballots. It attracted employees from different departments to help. The sorting process took so long that the real counting didn’t start until Thursday afternoon.

“This is almost like doing an Ironman triathlon and adding another marathon at the end,” said Fred Sherman, the county’s election commissioner. “So it’s a pretty gigantic process.”

____

Hanna reported from Topeka, Kansas. Josh Funk contributed to this report from Omaha, Nebraska.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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