Reproductive Rights

Kansas Residents Voted To Protect Abortion Rights By A Lopsided Margin. Conspiracy Theorists Demanded A Recount Anyway.

  Rob Boston

If you’re seeking evidence of how untethered from reality some Christian nationalists have become, look no further than Kansas, where anti-abortion activists simply won’t accept that they lost a recent referendum vote on abortion rights by 18 points.

Kansans voted Aug. 2 to retain language in their state constitution that affirms abortion rights. The outcome wasn’t close, with 59% of voters affirming abortion rights.

Despite the lopsided nature of the vote, Melissa Leavitt, a state resident who has spread baseless conspiracy theories about elections not being secure, filed for a recount. Under state law, she had to pay for it. Leavitt raised some money on her own but got most of the funds from Mark Gietzen, a longtime anti-abortion zealot.

Leavitt had hoped to force a statewide recount, but that would have cost $230,000. She wasn’t able to raise that much, though, so the recount included just nine of Kansas’ 105 counties, including Johnson and Sedgwick counties, the two largest in the state. As The Kansas City Star noted, the recount “burned countless hours as election officials scrambled to conclude the arduous process before a Saturday deadline.”

Star reporters Katie Bernard and Jonathan Shorman noted that the recount “never had any chance of changing the outcome but was sought by an election denier and anti-abortion activist advancing baseless allegations of fraud.”

After all that work, the recount modified the outcome by fewer than 60 votes. Undaunted, Gietzen said he plans to file a lawsuit seeking a full statewide recount. He also made strange ramblings suggesting that some of the people who took part in the vote don’t actually exist.

“The next step is to check the registrations of the people who they say voted,” Gietzen told The Star. “I don’t care whether they voted yes or no, it doesn’t make any difference to me. I want to know if a human being voted. So we’ll be visiting homes to see if anyone lives there – maybe 10 out of every precinct.”

Contacted by The Star, Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA Law, observed, “In this age of voter fraud hysteria it appears that no amount of evidence is enough to convince some people.”

Sadly, he’s right. And for some in the increasingly deranged Christian nationalist camp, the mountain of evidence that points to safe and secure elections is just proof of a wider conspiracy.

Unfortunately, recent events in Kansas may be a harbinger of things to come.

BREAKING NEWS

Americans United Urges Kentucky Supreme Court To Protect Religious Freedom By Blocking Abortion Bans

Amicus Brief Filed in Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center Explains Abortion Bans Violate Religious Freedom By Imposing One Religious Belief On All Kentuckians

Read our statement