Johnson County’s recount of abortion vote will take 150 workers and cost $75,000

Election workers at the Johnson County Election Office Tuesday sort paper ballots in order to prepare them to be recounted. Photo by Lucie Krisman.

Workers at the Johnson County Election Office on Wednesday morning will start recounting by hand more than 255,000 ballots cast in the Aug. 2 primary on a constitutional abortion amendment that was soundly defeated.

Driving the news: The Value Them Both amendment failed by a wide margin with nearly 60% of voters statewide rejecting the measure that would have stripped abortion rights from the Kansas constitution, but anti-abortion activists cobbled together nearly $120,000 to fund a recount of votes in nine counties, including Johnson County.

  • In Johnson County, the margin of defeat for the amendment was even greater with nearly 69% of voters here casting ballots for the “No” side.

How it got here: Anti-abortion activists, spearheaded by a woman from Colby, Kan., initially tried to raise enough money for a statewide recount on the abortion question — which would have cost $229,300, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office.

  • The activists did not meet that deadline for raising the funds for a full statewide recount, but by 5 p.m. on Monday, they were able to pay $119,600, which was enough to pay for a partial recount, covering nine counties, including Johnson, Douglas and Sedgwick counties.
  • The recount will cost Johnson County roughly $75,000, which county election commissioner Fred Sherman said will be reimbursed through the Secretary of State’s office.

What they’re saying: “This is almost like doing an Ironman triathlon and having to add on another marathon at the end,” Sherman said. “It is quite a gargantuan process, but it is part of the election process and procedures here in the state of Kansas.”

Election workers at the Johnson County Election Office preparing ballots to be recounted. Photo by Lucie Krisman

What happens next: At a news conference Tuesday, Sherman said a group of 30 to 35 workers had already begun sorting 256,869 paper ballots into precinct order to begin the recount.

  • Wednesday will mark the beginning of the actual hand count, which Sherman said will require 150 election workers on site from roughly 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Votes will be counted by individual precinct and will include provisional ballots, he said.
  • The election office has until Saturday to complete the recount and report results from each of the 547 precincts from which votes on the amendment came.
  • After the office finishes the recount, the county canvassing board will reconvene to certify the results once again.

ICYMI: Johnson County among 9 Kansas counties doing abortion vote recount after activists raise funds