Kansas abortion vote: Why recount with such a large margin?

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas on Tuesday started a partial hand recount of this month’s decisive statewide vote in favor of abortion rights, a transfer compelled by two Republican activists despite the fact that the margin was so large that the recount gained’t change the end result.

Nine of the state’s 105 counties are doing the recount at the request of Melissa Leavitt, of Colby, in far northwestern Kansas, who has pushed for tighter election legal guidelines. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Mark Gietzen, of Wichita, is protecting a lot of the prices.

A bigger than anticipated turnout of voters on Aug. 2 rejected a poll measure that may have eliminated protections for abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution and given to the Legislature the proper to additional limit abortion or ban it. It failed by 18 proportion factors, or 165,000 votes statewide.

It drew broad consideration as a result of it was the primary state referendum on abortion because the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.


Gietzen and Leavitt have each prompt there may need been issues with out pointing to any precise examples or proof. Gietzen acknowledged in an interview that he could be stunned if the Kansas recount modified the outcomes, however that he needs “the system fixed.” He pointed to potential issues that would have gone unsuitable, such as malicious software, inaccurate voter rolls and voting regulation violations, despite the fact that there is no such thing as a proof that occurred.

Recounts more and more are instruments to encourage supporters of a candidate or trigger to consider an election was stolen reasonably than lost. A wave of candidates who’ve echoed former President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged have known as for recounts after shedding their very own Republican primaries.

In Nevada, legal professional Joey Gilbert raised money to pay for a $190,000 recount that also confirmed him shedding the GOP nomination for governor by 26,000 votes. In Colorado, county clerk Tina Peters raised $256,000 to pay for a recount that confirmed she gained 13 votes complete in her bid for the occasion nomination for Secretary of State, however nonetheless lost by greater than 88,000 votes. Both candidates continued to say that they had really gained the election whilst recounts confirmed they got here nowhere shut.

The refusal of candidates or campaigns to consider they might ever be defeated in an election is a harmful growth for American democracy, stated Tammy Patrick, a former Arizona voting official who’s now a senior adviser to Democracy Fund.

“What we see now is people just don’t believe they lost because they’re constantly being fed these lies about the legitimacy of the process,” Patrick stated. The name for recounts “keeps their base engaged, ginned up and donating,” she added.

Deb Otis of the nonprofit group Fair Vote wrote a report that discovered about two recounts occurred a year in statewide elections between 2000 and 2019, and in solely three did the outcomes change after the recounts uncovered tiny however important flaws within the preliminary rely.

“Voters will start losing track of when these claims are legitimate and when a state should pay for a recount,” Otis stated.

Kansas regulation requires a recount if those that ask for it show they’ll cover the counties’ prices. The counties pay provided that the end result adjustments.


Kansas regulation says counties have 5 days following a request to finish a recount. The clock for the recount on the abortion measure began Monday, when the Kansas secretary of state’s office concluded Gietzen and Leavitt may cover the prices.

All 9 counties anticipated to complete by Saturday. Four began recounting by Tuesday, and a kind of, Lyon County, deliberate to complete by day’s finish. The different 5 deliberate to start out Wednesday.


Leavitt and Gietzen offered bank cards to pay for the almost $120,000 price, based on the secretary of state’s office. Leavitt has a web-based fundraising web page that had raised greater than $47,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. Gietzen additionally stated he’s getting donations from a community constructed over three a long time within the anti-abortion motion, however he declined to be extra particular.

The two initially needed the vote recounted in all 105 Kansas counties, however they could not increase the required $229,000. Gietzen stated the 9 counties had been chosen based mostly partially on their inhabitants and value.

Votes are being recounted in Douglas County, dwelling to the University of Kansas’ principal campus; Johnson County, in suburban Kansas City; Sedgwick County, dwelling to Wichita, Shawnee County, dwelling to Topeka; and Crawford, Harvey, Jefferson, Lyon and Thomas counties. Abortion opponents lost all of these counties besides Thomas.


Gietzen has been energetic within the anti-abortion motion and ceaselessly protests outdoors a clinic offering abortions in Wichita. He leads his personal group, the Kansas Coalition for Life, which is separate from the bigger and extra influential Kansans for Life that wields important energy on the Statehouse. He has pushed laws to ban most abortions at in regards to the sixth week of being pregnant. Kansas regulation would not try this till the twenty second week.

He additionally leads the Kansas Republican Assembly, which had some clout among the many GOP’s conservative activists greater than a decade in the past earlier than they solidified their maintain over the state occasion group. He is retired from plane producer Boeing.

He’s run repeatedly and unsuccessfully for the Legislature, and he has been an activist towards cities including fluoride to their consuming water, one thing Wichita rejected in 2012.

“He’s so far, right, he’s coming around the other side,” stated former Republican state Rep. John Whitmer, host of a Wichita radio speak present. “There’s just not a lot of wiggle room with Mark.”

Leavitt owns a interest and craft retailer in Colby. She has questioned how Thomas County is dealing with its elections. She served on a native election advisory group.


Voters within the 9 counties cast roughly 59% of the greater than 922,000 ballots on the Aug. 2 poll question. They rejected the abortion opponents’ measure by 31 proportion factors — considerably bigger than the statewide complete.

Recounts virtually by no means reverse the end result of elections, even within the closest races. Since the Florida recount for the 2000 presidential race, greater than 30 statewide elections throughout the U.S. have been the topic of recounts. The three that had been overturned had been determined by lots of of votes — not 1000’s.

The largest lead erased by a statewide recount was 261 votes in Washington state’s 2004 election for governor. There is not any precedent in U.S. historical past of a recount reversing the end result of an election determined by greater than 165,000 votes.

Even some robust abortion opponents see the recount as a waste of time and money. Whitmer stated the money could possibly be a lot better spent on GOP efforts to unseat Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly or on aggressive legislative seats.


Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Missouri, and Riccardi, from Denver. Also contributing was Margaret Stafford in Kansas City, Missouri and Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington, D.C.


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