What’s next after constitutional amendment vote in Kansas?

With nearly 1 million votes cast on the constitutional amendment question concerning abortion protections in Kansas, 59 percent voted “no.”
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With nearly 1 million votes cast on the constitutional amendment question concerning abortion protections in Kansas, 59 percent voted “no.” With abortion still protected in the state constitution, the big question now is, what could this mean for Kansas and the country?

Tuesday’s vote showed that in a strong Republican state like Kansas, preserving abortion access is the desire of most voters. Heading into the primary, Emporia State University Political Science Professor Dr. Michael Smith said “Vote No” ran a strong campaign, paving a path to victory.

“The libertarian streak, who is just anti government across the board, including on regulating abortion, that we see especially in rural Kansas, and we saw it last night,” Smith said. “However, neither I nor very many other people foresaw the margin by which ‘Vote No’ would win. It really was crushing.”

Dr. Smith said this is an issue that likely will remain front and center heading into the November general midterm elections across the country, especially for Democrats.

“Just too much energy. There are too many other states looking at abortion restrictions,” he said. “The Kansas legislature is still looking at their options, although that window narrowed.”

Dr. Smith said the “plan B” for abortion-rights opponents in Kansas will be more difficult to do since the vote wasn’t narrow.

“If ‘Vote No’ had passed narrowly, you just put it back on the ballot, maybe tweak the wording a little bit,” he said. “Just take another run at it.”

After conceding Tuesday night, abortion-rights opponents pointed to their concern with legal challenges to remove abortion regulations in the state. Dr. Smith said if lawmakers work to make changes to the courts in the state, it might not be positively viewed, as that’s the government branch in which Kansans have the most trust. “Governor Brownback tried to get a few Kansas Supreme Court justices rejected with retention elections when he was governor, and he failed on the same ballot on which he was re-elected,” Dr. Smith said. Retention elections for six Kansas Supreme Court justices will be on the November ballot.

Dr. Smith said something else to consider, especially for voters near the Missouri border, is with the shared media market those voters saw what happened in Missouri with a near-total ban on abortion in that state and the impact of that.

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