Abortion question boosts early Kansas voting for primary

Jul 26, 2022, 1:55 AM | Updated: 2:51 pm

College students Alyssa Winters, left, and Ben Kennedy, right, chat as they go door-to-door to talk...

College students Alyssa Winters, left, and Ben Kennedy, right, chat as they go door-to-door to talk to prospective voters about a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would allow legislators to further restrict or ban abortion, Friday, July 8, 2022, in Olathe, Kansas. They are among about 300 college students brought into Kansas by the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group, which backs the measure. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Early voting is surging in Kansas ahead of next week’s statewide abortion vote and the electorate so far is leaning more Democratic than usual.

More than 2½ times as many people had cast early ballots as of Tuesday compared to the same point in the 2018 mid-term primary, the Kansas secretary of state’s office reported. Voters will decide Aug. 2 whether to amend the Kansas Constitution to allow the Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion.

Polling has suggested that Democrats are far stronger supporters of abortion-rights than Republicans, and Democrats so far make up 42% of the people who have cast ballots early in Kansas, compared to 44% for Republicans. Over the past 10 years, Republicans have typically cast twice as many ballots in a primary election as Democrats. Unaffiliated voters — who can’t participate in a partisan primary unless they pick a party label — have cast nearly 14% of the early votes.

The Kansas vote is the first statewide referendum on abortion policy since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. In Douglas County, among a few Democratic strongholds in Republican-leaning Kansas and home to the liberal main University of Kansas campus, 5,800 people already have cast early in-person ballots. The normal figure for a primary is about 2,200, said County Clerk Jamie Shew, who oversees its elections.

“Very rarely do you see an event that has a clear impact like that,” said Shew, an elected Democrat.

A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the start of July showed that 33% of Democrats interviewed considered abortion and women’s rights a top issue, up from just 3% in 2020.

An AP-NORC poll in December showed that 69% of Democrats but only 27% of Republicans said an abortion should be possible if a woman does not want to be pregnant. The same poll said 26% of Republicans said first-trimester abortions should always be illegal.

In Kansas, Republicans have long had an advantage in voter numbers. As of July 1, they made up about 44% of the state’s 1.9 million registered voters, compared to 26% for Democrats and 29% for unaffiliated voters. Also, Democrats historically have had fewer competitive primaries than Republicans for statewide and legislative offices, and that’s true this year. Both of those historical trends normally would argue for low Democratic turnout.

The Republican-controlled Legislature put the anti-abortion measure on the ballot to overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court decision declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution. The measure would add language saying the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion, allowing lawmakers to regulate it as they see fit.

Supporters wanted the question on the August ballot, arguing that it would get the attention it deserves then instead of getting lost amid Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s difficult race for reelection in the fall.

“We’re glad to see many Kansans engaging in the democratic process and hopeful that they are educating themselves about what the amendment truly is and does,” said Mackenzie Haddix, a spokesperson for the main group supporting the proposed amendment.

Even with a surge in early voting, far fewer people are likely to cast ballots in August than in the November general election. Shew sent postcards to all of his county’s unaffiliated voters, telling them how they can vote on the amendment because they are “just not used to voting in August.”

“It’s still very much an uphill battle for us because of that, but we’re encouraged by the energy and engagement that we’ve seen from voters, not just Democratic voters,” said Ashley All, a spokesperson for the main coalition opposing the measure.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


biden crisis averted...

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office Friday evening.

1 day ago

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition, ...

Associated Press

US, Europe working on voluntary AI code of conduct as calls grow for regulation

The United States and Europe are drawing up a voluntary code of conduct for artificial intelligence as the developing technology triggers warnings

1 day ago

FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador speaks during the Idaho Republican Party...

Associated Press

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho's ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

2 days ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

2 days ago

FILE - Candles are lit on a memorial wall during an anniversary memorial service at the Holy Trinit...

Associated Press

Pain and terror felt by passengers before Boeing Max crashed can be considered, judge rules

Families of passengers who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia can seek damages for the pain and terror suffered by victims in the minutes before the plane flew nose-down into the ground, a federal judge has ruled.

3 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College ...

Associated Press

Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Abortion question boosts early Kansas voting for primary