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Wasted effort
Needless recounts are pointless
Life on the Ark.jpg

A hand recount of the Kansas abortion amendment vote in nine counties cost $119,000. After looking at 556,364 ballots, the final count changed by 63 votes. So, instead of failing by 165,389 votes, the recount showed the amendment failed by a mere 165,326 votes.

The recount was requested by Melissa Leavitt from Colby and Mark Gietzen from Wichita, who were unhappy and perhaps not convinced that the “no” votes outnumbered the “yeses” by such a wide margin.

That’s a small fraction of the over 922,000 Kansans who voted on the amendment. All in all, Leavitt and Gietzen paid about $1,889 per vote gained.

While this was mostly a waste of a lot of people’s time and money, at least it showed that county election officers did a good job and Kansas voters had an honest election where their votes were counted.

Secretary of State Schwab put it this way: “The results of this unprecedented recount of more than half the ballots cast in the 2022 Kansas primary election, with less than 2/100ths of a percent difference in the county canvasses and the recount process, proves once and for all that there is no systematic election fraud in our state’s election process.”

There were also recounts in six counties – one of them Barton – in the extremely close Republican primary race for state treasurer between State Sen. Caryn Tyson from Parker in eastern Kansas and Rep. Steven Johnson from Assaria in central Kansas. At least that recount made some sense, because Tyson lost by fewer than 500 votes out of 431,000 cast statewide.

Even in this case, the choice of a recount in Barton County is puzzling. County Clerk/Election Officer Bev Schmeidler said “there were no changes” in the recount. The county-wide total was 3,145 votes for Johnson and 1,838 votes for Tyson, so we wonder why she thought this county could help her.

There were also recounts in the Republican race for House District 118 in all nine counties that make up the district: Sheridan, Logan, Gove,  Trego, Greeley, Scott, Lane, Wichita and Ness. In the race between Tatum Lee from Ness City and incumbent Jim Minnix from Scott City, the recount added zero votes to Lee’s total and subtracted one vote in Wichita County from Minnix’s total. Lee was the Representative of the 117th District last year, but that changed after redistricting. She requested the hand recount in a race she lost by more than 1,200 votes.

While it is good to reaffirm election results, we’d like to see more graceful losers. When it comes to Kansas elections, our officials have earned our trust.