Large primary turnout key to success for supporters of abortion rights in Kansas

In an almost entirely red state, Kansans decided to protect abortion rights, voting “no” on a constitutional amendment question on Tuesday’s primary ballot.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KWCH) - In an almost entirely red state, Kansans decided to protect abortion rights, voting “no” on a constitutional amendment question on Tuesday’s primary ballot. The “no” vote keeps abortion protected in the state constitution. In all, nearly 1 million Kansans voted.

University of Kansas Political Science Professor Patrick Miller said to make “vote no” the winner, it took action from all sides of the political spectrum, especially unaffiliated voters who generally wouldn’t vote in a primary midterm.

Miller said the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade was a wake-up call to many Kansans who took federal abortion protections for granted. It was a main force driving many of them to the polls.

Democrats, libertarians, and a significant number of Republicans statewide also voted against the constitutional amendment. Miller said that’s because Kansans were able to vote directly on the issue and not for a candidate or in accordance with typical party lines.

“Those Republican voters who are fundamentally pro-choice and don’t care about abortion as much, of course they often vote straight-ticket Republican for Republicans who will ultimately vote to ban abortion if given the chance as we’re seeing in a lot of states right now,” he said. “But I think this is a unique kind of election where those voters are given the opportunity to vote on just the issue.”

The trend proves true in counties like Saline and Cowley, which typically vote red. Tuesday, most votes there were “no” votes. There were similar trends in smaller rural counties in Kansas.

“It’s very easy for us to follow politics to follow into a trap of thinking that every issue is super hyper-polarized,” Miller said. “It’s not.” He said the primary proves that while many Republicans don’t feel strongly enough about abortion to vote for a Democrat, a significant number will vote to protect abortion when a question like what Kansas voters saw Tuesday is on their ballot.

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