Kansas Abortion Opponents Run Up Some Credit Card Debt

Statewide measure passed by 18 percentage points, but they're going to get partial recount
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2022 3:05 PM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2022 6:14 AM CDT
Kansan Posts Bond for Abortion Rights Recount
A long line of voters wraps around the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse in Wichita on Aug. 1, the last day of early voting in an election that included a measure on abortion.   (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: Kansas will indeed carry out a partial hand recount that won't change the outcome of this month's decisive vote in favor of abortion rights after abortion opponents charged almost $120,000 to credit cards Monday to cover the cost, reports the AP. The Kansas secretary of state's office said the recount will occur in nine of the state's 105 counties that account for more than half of the votes cast on the Aug. 2 abortion ballot question, including four of the state's five most populous counties. Organizers initially requested a recount in all 105 counties and proposed using one organizer's “financial assets” for the required bond to cover the $229,000 in costs, but the state elections director rejected that plan, saying the state would require cash, a check, or credit card and that organizers could narrow their request to specific counties to lower the costs. Our original story from Sunday follows:

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, the AP reports.

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. Kansas law requires that a bond be posted to cover the cost of the recount. If the recount changes the outcome, the money is to 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 on TikTok over the weekend that the bond had not been paid yet and fundraising was ongoing. Tempel didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Leavitt said in a video posted to TikTok on Sunday morning that 24 hours remained 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 legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. The measure was rejected by 18 percentage points in the first test of voter sentiment since the US Supreme Court's decision in June that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.

(Read more Kansas stories.)

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