Activist offers to pay for Kansas’ recount of abortion vote

FILE - Allie Utley, left, and Jae Moyer, center, of Overland Park, Kan., reacts during a...
FILE - Allie Utley, left, and Jae Moyer, center, of Overland Park, Kan., reacts during a primary watch party Aug. 2, 2022, at the Overland Park Convention Center. A notable increase in turnout among Democrats and independents and a surprising shift in Republican-leaning counties contributed to the overwhelming support of abortion rights last week in traditionally conservative Kansas, according to a detailed Associated Press analysis of the voting results.(Tammy Ljungblad/The Kansas City Star via AP, File)
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 5:30 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An anti-abortion activist who heads a small hard-right Republican group said he’s offered to pay the expected $229,000 cost of a hand recount of votes from every Kansas county after a decisive statewide vote affirming abortion rights.

Mark Gietzen, who leads the group Kansas Republican Assembly, told the Kansas City Star he wants to pay for the recount that Melissa Leavitt, of Colby, requested because he believes it could change the outcome. The 165,000-vote difference in the election makes that unlikely, however.

Gietzen said fundraising and his own money would be used. The Kansas Republican Assembly is significantly to the right of the state Republican Party and isn’t affiliated with the GOP-led legislature.

There has been no evidence of significant problems with the election. Baseless election conspiracies have circulated widely in the U.S., particularly among supporters of former President Donald Trump, who has repeated false claims that he lost the 2020 election through fraud.

Kansas law requires that a bond be posted to cover the cost of the recount and if the recount changes the outcome, the money will be refunded.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, Whitney Tempel, said Friday that Leavitt had posted a $200,000 bond, but Leavitt said in updates posed to TikTok over the weekend that the bond had not been paid yet and fundraising was ongoing. Tempel didn’t immediately respond to messages from the newspaper and The Associated Press.

Leavitt said in a video posted to TikTok on Sunday morning that there was 24 hours left to raise money for the effort.

Earlier this month, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the conservative Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. It failed by 18 percentage points and was the first test of voter sentiment after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.