Overview:

Right-wing activists have raised enough money for a partial recount in Kansas' abortion rights vote. It won't change the outcome.

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Despite the overwhelming defeat of Kansas Amendment 2, a referendum to “affirm there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion,” and an insurmountable lack of evidence of voter fraud, nine Kansas counties are set to conduct a recount of the state’s stunning vote.

After the amendment’s decisive rejection by voters, right-wing activists have worked to set up a recount. The original 59-41 vote, a major victory for pro-choice activists, sent shock waves around the country and is considered a potential bellwether for the upcoming midterm elections.

Initially, conservative proponents of the “Value Them Both” amendment had wanted a statewide recount. But after failing to secure the $230,000 necessary to fund the effort, the recount is set to be much smaller, now slated to be run in Johnson, Sedgwick, Douglas, Shawnee, Crawford, Harvey, Jefferson, Lyon, and Thomas—which include some of the state’s largest counties. This means that the recount will ultimately comprise roughly 59% of the ballots which were cast in the election, with eight of the nine counties in the recount having voted “no” in the original vote. 

The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office said that the cost of the recount will largely be paid by Mark Gietzen, a prominent anti-abortion activist in Wichita and the leader of the Kansas Republican Assembly. Gietzen has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the vote was fraudulent. “The recount is step number one,” Gietzen said. “After that, we’re going to do a sampling to find out whether people listed as voting actually voted or if there was some kind of hanky panky going on.” 

State Rep. John Carmichael, a pro-choice Wichita Democrat, said that Gietzen’s efforts were just an attempt to raise political funds from anti-abortion activists. “This all fits into a pattern, if you will, of raising money from the faithful to joust at windmills,” Carmichael said. He went on to say that Gietzen’s efforts “made little if any sense and never resulted in any substantive progress for the pro-life movement.”

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Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.