Kansas Recount Changes Few Votes on Abortion Rights

Activist who made request says the effort was worth the trouble
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2022 5:05 PM CDT
Kansas Recount Changes Few Votes on Abortion Rights
A yard sign in Merriam, Kansas, urges voters to oppose a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution in July.   (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Results from eight of nine Kansas counties that recounted ballots found fewer than 35 changed votes from the Aug. 2 election, when voters soundly rejected a proposed amendment that would have removed abortion rights from the state's constitution. The counties faced a 5pm Saturday deadline to complete the hand recounts of ballots cast on Aug. 2. Eight counties finished on time, the AP reports. Sedgwick County officials said they would not meet the deadline. The recount was requested by two anti-abortion activists who questioned election procedures but did not provide proof of any specific problems.

Posted results for the eight counties found a total of 13 fewer votes for those favoring tighter abortion restrictions and 19 fewer votes for those wanting to keep existing abortion rights. Election officials attributed the changes to human error, such as voters making unclear marks on ballots. A Sedgwick County spokeswoman said Saturday that after the counting was complete, the election commissioner found things she wanted to check again. It was unclear what the problems were or when the county would finish its recount. Votes were recounted in Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas’ main campus; Johnson County, in suburban Kansas City; Sedgwick County, home to Wichita; Shawnee County, home to Topeka; and Crawford, Harvey, Jefferson, Lyon and Thomas counties. Abortion opponents lost all of those counties except Thomas.

Initial statewide tallies showed the proposed amendment, which would have removed protections for abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution and allowed the Legislature to further restrict abortion or ban it, failed by 18 percentage points, or 165,000 votes. One of the people behind the recount, Mark Gietzen, issued a statement defending his recount request, per KMBC. "I consider this a victory no matter the results," he said. A Johnson County election commissioner on Saturday called the hand recount "emotional and physically stressful," per KCUR.

(More Kansas stories.)

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