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Decisive Vote Protecting Abortion Rights In Kansas Confirmed In Recount | HuffPost Latest News

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A decisive statewide vote in favor of abortion rights in traditionally conservative Kansas was confirmed with a partial hand recount, with fewer than 100 votes changing after the last county reported results Sunday.

Nine of the state’s 105 counties recounted their votes at the request of Melissa Leavitt, who has pushed for tighter election laws. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Mark Gietzen, is covering most of the costs. Gietzen acknowledged in an interview that it was unlikely to change the outcome.

A larger than expected turnout of voters on Aug. 2 rejected a ballot measure that would have removed protections for abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution and given to the Legislature the right to further restrict or ban abortion. It failed by 18 percentage points, or 165,000 votes statewide.

Gietzen said Sunday he doesn’t accept the results of the Sedgwick County recount because of the discrepancy about the way the ballots were sorted and because some of the recount happened Saturday without outside observers present to watch.

He said he’s also concerned about the results statewide because of a report out of Cherokee county in southeast Kansas about the results of one county election being transposed between two candidates when the results were transferred on a thumb drive from one voting machine to a tabulating machine.

Gietzen said he won’t publicly report the names of private donors helping him finance the recount, even though a state ethics official says it’s required. Gietzen, who leads a small GOP group, the Kansas Republican Assembly, argues that he’s not campaigning for the anti-abortion measure but is instead promoting election integrity.

Votes were recounted in Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas’ main campus; Johnson County, in suburban Kansas City; Sedgwick County, home to Wichita, Shawnee County, home to Topeka; and Crawford, Harvey, Jefferson, Lyon and Thomas counties. Abortion opponents lost all of those counties except Thomas.

In Jefferson County, the margin remained the same, with the pro- and anti-amendment totals declining by four votes each. Linda Buttron, the county clerk, blamed the change on things like ovals not being darkened and “the challenges of hand counting ballots.”

“This is almost like doing an Ironman triathlon and having to add on another marathon at the end,” said Fred Sherman, the county’s Election Commissioner. “So it is quite a gargantuan process.”

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