Kansas abortion amendment recount underway in 9 counties, including JoCo

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT
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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (KCTV) - Nine counties across Kansas are recounting ballots for the failed Value them Both Amendment.

It comes after a push from anti-abortion advocates who question the results.

This includes Johnson County, where 256,000 ballots were cast; 68.5% voted no, 31.5% voted yes.

Johnson County’s Board of Elections began the process of hand sorting ballots and explained to reporters the process will take five days.

“A lot of the folks doing this are exhausted because we’ve been working nonstop 12-hour days since the Fourth of July,” said Fred Sherman with the Johnson County Board of Elections.

Sherman said he is confident in the current results.

“We stand by the integrity of Johnson County elections. It’s fair, safe and secure,” Sherman said.

Kansas Coalition for Life Chairman Mark Gietzen said he sees a clear need for a recount, claiming fraud and inaccuracies without offering proof.

“So, what this is going to tell us is if there’s cheating in the electronic machine counting. Maybe the ‘no’ vote is the actual ‘yes’ vote. Maybe the ‘yes’ vote is the actual ‘no’ vote. I don’t know. I’m not saying that. But, that’s what the possibilities already opened up,” said Gietzen.

Gietzen said that a next step could include going door-to-door, questioning voters to confirm they actually voted in the election. It’s not clear whether that would even be possible.

The recount request is in Melissa Leavitt’s name. She raised donations which total more than $45,000. She posted TikTok videos, encouraging people to donate money and consider becoming a poll agent. She also questioned chain of custody issues in counties that needed to print extra ballots.

Leavitt fell short of the needed $229,000 to force a statewide recount. But, enough funds were raised to require a recount in nine counties: Crawford, Douglas, Harvey, Jefferson, Johnson, Lyon, Sedgwick, Shawnee, and Thomas.

Gietzen is a major financial backer of the recount, supplying credit cards to pay much of the bill while Leavitt continues to raise money.

“I think you have to do it. But, it’s not everything. You know, it’s like four bases on a baseball diamond. This is only going from home plate to first base, you know? OK. So what this is going to tell us is if there’s cheating in the electronic machine counting,” Gietzen said.

Kansas law allows citizens to request a full or partial recount. Citizens must pay the expense. If the outcome is changed, money will be returned. That’s something Gietzen said he anticipates.

Amendment 2 is likely the most expensive ballot initiative in Kansas history. The totals on both sides reached more than $15 million. Donations poured in nationwide. The Catholic Church spent more than $3 million to help the amendment pass.

The amendment failed 41% to 59%.

Previous coverage:

Kansas abortion amendment recount effort proceeds in 9 counties

Attempt to recount Value Them Both Amendment votes faces another challenge

Activist offers to pay for Kansas’ recount of abortion vote

Kansas voters resoundingly vote ‘NO’ on amendment over regulating right to abortion

Abortion amendment in Kansas grabbing national attention, record spending. Here’s why.

Following the money: Millions spent on Kansas abortion amendment from across the country