Kansas Gov. Kelly says abortion vote recount ‘inconsequential’ to election confidence

·2 min read
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal /Associated Press

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly stopped short of criticizing a recount of Kansas’ landslide abortion vote, saying the far-right activists behind the effort had the right to pursue it under the state’s law.

“It’s the right of folks to do that as long as they can pay the expenses,” Kelly said Wednesday when asked whether or not a recount was appropriate in such a lopsided race. “That would be my only concern is that the counties don’t incur costs for something where the outcome is so obvious.”

A Wichita anti-abortion activist and Colby election denier scraped together roughly $120,000 Monday to force a recount in nine of Kansas’ 105 counties on the failed amendment that would have stripped abortion rights from the state’s constitution. The chosen counties include four of the state’s biggest— Johnson, Sedgwick, Douglas and Shawnee, which all voted against the anti-abortion ballot measure by a wide margin.

The recount, which began Tuesday, is virtually guaranteed to fail in changing the outcome of the election. Kansans rejected the amendment 59% to 41%, a gap of more than 165,000 votes.

Under Kansas law, the bond used to request the recount will cover the cost of the recount as long as the result of the election does not change. The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office asked each county for estimates on cost of the recount. In an email, Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the office said individual counties would be responsible for covering any additional costs incurred above their original estimates.

The recount itself, Kelly said, would be inconsequential to Kansans’ faith in democracy unless the recount somehow changed the end result. She contrasted the abortion recount with the recount also taking place in the GOP primary for Kansas treasurer in which state Rep. Steven Johnson led state Sen. Caryn Tyson by 475 votes.

“You might be able to look at the treasurer’s race and say there may be intrigue there, the possibilities,” Kelly said. “With this one there’s not.”

Kelly’s tepid response comes in stark contrast to Kansas’ other top Democrat, U.S. Rep Sharice Davids, who called it a “waste of time and money from dangerously out of touch politicians who are unwilling to accept defeat.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called it an attempt by “election deniers and conspiracy theorists ... working to overthrow the will of voters.”

The nine counties have until Saturday to complete their recounts.

Jefferson and Lyon counties have already completed their recount efforts, according to county election officials.