OLATHE, Kan. — A hand recount of the Kansas abortion amendment vote began Tuesday in Johnson County.

Earlier this month, Kansans overwhelmingly voted against the “Value Them Both” amendment that would have overturned a 2019 state Supreme Court decision that said abortion rights were protected under the state constitution. 

Last week Kansas elections director Bryan Caskey said there was a 165,000-vote difference and a recount won’t change the result.

“I believe the recount will show Kansas elections are done securely and transparently,” Caskey said in a news conference over zoom Tuesday. “It will validate the unofficial election night results we had on election night, and the official results that were certified by the counties earlier this week and last.”

But Melissa Leavitt of Colby, Kansas, put in a request and came up with nearly $120,000 in funding for a partial recount in select counties. Kansas Republican Assembly President Mark Gietzen paid that tab.

Nine counties — Lyon, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Thomas, Johnson, Douglas, Jefferson, Harvey and Crawford — are now in the process of recounting votes. The recount must be completed by Saturday, Aug. 20.

Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman said the final results in his county are accurate.

“I won’t say frustrated. I’m exhausted,” Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman said in a press conference Tuesday. “A lot of the folks that have been working for this election are exhausted.”

In the Aug. 2 primary, 69% of people voted no in Johnson County, and 31% voted yes, a difference of 92,000 votes. In total, 256,000 Johnson County residents voted in the primary.

“This is almost like doing an iron man triathlon and then having to add on another marathon at the end I guess,” Sherman continued. “So it is quite a gargantuan process, but it is part of the election process and procedures in the state of Kansas.”

In Douglas County, Clerk Jamie Shew oversees elections. His workers are doing a hand recount as well, like the workers in Johnson.

Over 47,000 people voted on this amendment in Douglas County. Results show 81% of the people voted no, and 19% voted yes, a difference of 29,000. The hand recount, according to Shew, may change just a couple of votes.

“I’m very confident,” Shew said when asked about his results. “We use a lot of checks and balances in the election process. I’m very confident. This isn’t going to swing the race where suddenly Douglas County votes yes.”

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