Kansas elections director says state will recount abortion ballots by hand — if woman seeking recount can cover the cost

TOPEKA — Kansas’ elections director says the state will go along with a request for a hand recount of votes from every county after last week’s decisive statewide vote affirming abortion rights — if the woman seeking the recount can cover the cost.

Melissa Leavitt, of Colby in far western Kansas, requested the recount and declined to comment to reporters Friday evening, citing work obligations. But she said on an online site raising funds for a recount that she had “seen data” about the election. Her post was not more specific.

Kansas law requires Leavitt to post a bond to cover the entire cost of the recount. Bryan Caskey, state elections director for the Kansas secretary of state’s office, said it would be the first recount of the votes on a statewide ballot question in at least 30 years.

But Caskey said the work won’t begin without a guarantee that Leavitt can cover the cost.

“Normally, they reinforce the Election Day results,” Caskey said about recounts. “We stand by the results and will do the recount.”

Voters last week rejected the proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have allowed the conservative, Republican-controlled Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. It failed by 18 percentage points; there was a 165,000-vote difference in the statewide referendum, and a recount won’t change the result. There is no evidence of significant problems with the election.

Baseless election conspiracies have circulated widely in the U.S., particularly among supporters of former President Donald Trump, who has repeated false claims that he lost the 2020 election through fraud.

Also seeking a recount is state Sen. Caryn Tyson, who is trailing state Rep. Steven Johnson in the Republican primary for state treasurer by about 400 votes out of nearly 434,000 cast. She is asking for a hand recount in about half the state’s 105 counties.

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