Abortion amendment recount underscores validity of election process in Kansas

Of the two challenges to statewide primary election results over the past two weeks, only one really made sense.

Sen. Caryn Tyson’s campaign was right to call for a recount of votes, even though that recount was limited to only six counties. The recount is expected to cost the Tyson campaign $2,570 because it did not change the result of the election.

While news reports of final election results fluctuating between fewer than 200 votes to nearly 500, the race between Tyson and Rep. Steven Johnson has been a statistical tie.

Late last week, Tyson conceded the race as official results showed Johnson as the winner with about 470 votes over Tyson.

With that razor-thin margin of victory, requesting at least a limited hand recount of the vote was a prudent move. First, it was less expensive than a full-blown, statewide hand recount, and second, the incredibly insignificant variation between the hand count and the machine count reinforced the notion that elections in Kansas are above board and honest.

The recount of the votes on the abortion amendment, on the other hand, was an attempt by the pro-amendment supporters to essentially declare that the margin of victory by the voters against the amendment was so false as to render a 59 percent to 41 percent blowout a case of large scale election fraud.

Supporters of the amendment were unable to raise the $230,000 it would cost for a statewide recount, settling instead for a recount with a price tag of $120,000 in nine counties, including Johnson, Douglas, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties.

That $120,000 will vanish as well, because the recount verified official vote totals, with only a very minor variation. Supporters of the anti-abortion amendment felt that it was confident to pass, and did their best to schedule it for a primary that generally has better turnout of more conservative Republicans.

Instead it was a case of voters from a wide spectrum of political persuasions – from Democrats to independents to Republicans – who felt that the state did not need further restrictions on abortions and turned out to cast their votes that way.

If the Linn County Clerk’s office is any indication of how seriously election officials across the state take responsibility for insuring a fair, impartial election – and we think it does – Kansans can be sure of vote totals.

Election officials with the clerk’s office for weeks worked to make sure the election went off with anything but minor glitches. And there were some, including some missteps by poll workers that did not little or nothing to influence the outcome.

There seems to be a greater propensity for candidates, or in this case special-interest groups, to cry foul when an election doesn’t go their way. The recount requested by the pro-amendment supporters follows that same logic: If the amendment doesn’t pass, the election is rigged.

Even before the primary election earlier this month, the Kansas Legislature passed bills that added additional steps to insure fair elections. It was obvious the those legislators were influenced by outcries across the nation about rigged elections – charges that have proven time and time again to be false. Those changes also came despite state Secretary of State Scott Schwab assuring legislators and voters that elections in Kansas were secure.

But as the hand count finals came in closely matching the election night results, Schwab said it was a sure signal that elections in the state of Kansas are safe and secure.

And it was.

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