Could recount on abortion amendment vote make difference? Expert weighs in
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Two weeks after the constitutional amendment question concerning abortion rights failed in the Kansas primary, votes are being recounted in nine of the state’s 105 counties, including Sedgwick among four of the five most populous.
The counties, (Crawford, Douglas, Harvey, Jefferson, Johnson, Lyon, Sedgwick, Shawnee, and Thomas) have until Friday to finish the recount, paid for by fundraising and the leader of the Kansas Republican Assembly.
In Johnson County alone, there will be a hand count of nearly 257,000 ballots.
The question: Will the recount make a difference? The proposed amendment failed by a significant margin (18%) and some experts say there is little chance that will change.
Wichita State University Associate Professor and Political Science Department Chair Dr. Neal Allen said the chances of the recount overturning the election “are basically zero.”
The reason for that is the wide margin by which the amendment question failed; 59% “no” to 41% “yes.”
If the “yes” vote had won, it would have removed constitutional protections for abortion in Kansas and returned the power to regulate it back to state lawmakers.
“The margin in the “value them both amendment” is just giant,” Dr. Allen said.
The final count showed the “no” votes outnumbering “yes,” by a total count of 543,855 to 378,466, about 18%.
Dr. Allen said the only situation he could see that changing is if every voting machine had “some kind of software error.” There is no indication or evidence of that being the case with the Aug. 2 primary nor that there was any widespread voter fraud or election irregularities.
“And also, if this was a situation where we had any evidence of voter fraud or election fraud or malfeasance, maybe one thing, but we don’t,” Dr. Allen said. “I mean, all indications are this was a very clean and fair election. And if anything, just shows how hard election workers, election offices and the [Kansas] Secretary of State’s Office works.”
Supporters of the failed constitutional amendment came together to raise $120,000 to pay for the recount in nine Kansas counties. Kansas Republican Assembly President Mark Gietzen put forth a healthy portion of the money for the recount. He said he even used his credit card to pay for it as he believes there was fraud in the Aug. 2 vote.
“You don’t know unless the vote has been hand counted, and I don’t know unless the vote has been hand counted what the actual ballots are,” Gietzen said. “And that’s only getting to first base. When you get to the second base, once the election commission office will release who voted, we want to start going, taking a sample of every precinct and go to the house, knock on the door, ‘did you actually vote?’ ‘Are you aware that you voted?’”
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican, said there is no evidence of voter fraud in the Kansas primary. Political experts agree.
Dr. Allen said his hope is that if the recount reaffirms the original outcome, it can reaffirm confidence in those who question it.
“And maybe there will be voters who will see this count and be more convince that it was a fair result,” he said.
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