Gietzen scoffs at Sedgwick County recount

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A hand recount of votes in Sedgwick County confirmed a landslide victory for Kansas abortion rights on Sunday, however confusion surrounding a missed deadline has given gasoline to recount backers who vow to maintain difficult the outcomes of the Aug. 2 election.

The hand recount in Sedgwick County verified that the Value Them Both amendment, which sought to take away abortion rights from the Kansas Structure, failed by a large margin within the state’s second largest county, because it did statewide.

The general statewide vote tally modified by lower than one-tenth of 1 share level with the Sedgwick County recount.

However Mark Gietzen, a Wichita anti-abortion activist who’s spreading unfounded conspiracy theories about voting fraud and helped pay for the recount, mentioned he plans to refuse to pay an estimated $31,800 for the Sedgwick County recount except the ballots are counted for a 3rd time. He mentioned he deliberate to sue the secretary of state on Monday, searching for a full hand recount of each race within the state within the August major.

“In Sedgwick County, they should do Worth Them Each once more, as a result of that was completely screwed up,” Gietzen mentioned Sunday after the canvass board licensed the outcomes.

One other recount would possible finish with the identical end result. However Gietzen has indicated he’s on the lookout for any opening to overturn the election.

Central to Gietzen’s latest grievance is whether or not the Sedgwick County Election Workplace violated state open conferences regulation when it delayed its recount canvass and continued engaged on its recount Saturday with out notifying the general public of the time, place and date of the recount actions.

Sedgwick County Election Fee Angela Caudillo mentioned no observers had been barred from watching the recount, which was on the similar location every day.

“We by no means ended our course of,” Caudillo mentioned. “Our doorways had been open on daily basis. I do know that information media was there as late as 6 or 7 on Friday whereas we had been nonetheless working. And our doorways had been open, folks got here in, we had observers.”

Two public statements issued by Sedgwick County after election staff completed counting failed to say work was persevering with on the Sedgwick County Extension Workplace on Saturday. As an alternative, they talked about board of canvass conferences on the Historic Courthouse in downtown Wichita.

Gietzen mentioned observers had been unable to observe the recount on Saturday as a result of they didn’t know ballots had been nonetheless being counted or the place the method was enjoying out.

“They despatched the observers residence Friday about midday,” Gietzen mentioned in an interview. “After which the election commissioner, who has a vested curiosity in making an attempt to make it work, make the numbers match, admitted that they weren’t matching, the numbers had been unhealthy, after which in some way we fastened it, solely to seek out out Saturday that they had been in there working Saturday with out notifying the observers.

“I’m not going to pay for that,” Gietzen mentioned. “That’s an absolute no-no.”

The Kansas recount was requested earlier this month by Melissa Leavitt, a Colby election denier, and financed partially by Gietzen, chief of the Kansas Coalition for Life and Kansas Republican Meeting.

They didn’t increase sufficient cash for a full statewide recount however scraped collectively sufficient — $120,000 — to pay for a recount in 9 out of 105 counties, together with a number of the state’s largest.

The proposed Worth Them Each modification failed 58% to 42% in Sedgwick County and 59% to 41% statewide.

In Sedgwick County, greater than 140 election staff counted from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday after which till lunchtime on Friday to fulfill the Saturday deadline.

“Though our board did a terrific job of counting, in a single class they did not separate the votes into the right precinct batches,” Caudillo mentioned. “So we would have liked to return and begin proofing these, and that’s what occurred on Saturday.”

After election staff completed counting ballots Friday round midday, they started manually getting into handwritten outcomes into a pc spreadsheet. Caudillo mentioned whereas she was proofreading the information entered into the spreadsheet Friday night time, she found roughly 400 ballots that had not been assigned precincts in the course of the recount, prompting a labor-intensive strategy of monitoring down these ballots and categorizing them appropriately.

After lacking the Saturday deadline, Sedgwick County verified its outcomes round 4:30 p.m. Sunday. It was the final county to confirm its recount.

Ballots had been recounted in 4 of the state’s most densely populated counties — Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Douglas, which all rejected the poll by a large margin — and 4 smaller counties the place the modification failed. These counties had been Crawford, Harvey, Jefferson and Lyon. In addition they ordered a recount in Thomas County, the place voters favored the modification.

The recount didn’t change the result in any of the 9 counties.

Communication issues

A heated trade in the course of the recount canvass on Sunday exemplified the chaotic and politically fraught intersection of abortion politics and false election conspiracies driving the recount effort.

It began with a county commissioner accusing the election commissioner of fueling mistrust in elections, escalated to grievances about funding, moved on to at least one commissioner telling one other to observe his tone and ended with commissioners unanimously approving a recount of a landslide victory for abortion rights.

The modification was rejected in Sedgwick County 85,885-61,843, a greater than 24,042-vote win for abortion rights, in keeping with the official recount outcomes verified Sunday. The recount discovered 19 further votes for the modification and 38 fewer towards it, with 86 fewer ballots than the unique depend in Sedgwick County.

However confusion that began late Friday night time, if Gietzen will get his means, might result in an extra recount. Fee Chairman David Dennis, a Republican member of the Board of County Canvassers, mentioned he believes the election outcomes had been correct however shared in Gietzen’s displeasure with the dearth of communication about recount actions on Saturday.

Throughout the canvass, Dennis berated Caudillo for not placing out any public notifications or information releases to elucidate what was occurring Saturday in the course of the delay.

“I anticipated your workplace to place out common communications by our communications division to let the general public know what’s occurring, as a result of we now have to make it possible for this election is open, clear, truthful and correct,” Dennis mentioned.

That didn’t occur, Dennis mentioned.

At 2:43 p.m. Friday, Sedgwick County Strategic Communications posted a information launch saying the canvassing board would meet at 8 a.m. Saturday on the Historic Courthouse downtown to certify the outcomes, a sign that the recount was drawing to a detailed.

All that was left was knowledge entry of handwritten outcomes into a pc spreadsheet after which proofreading the information entered into the spreadsheet for any anomalies.

At 11:24 p.m. that night time, Sedgwick County posted a two-sentence information launch asserting one thing had gone improper.

“The Sedgwick County Recount Canvass initially scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, has been postponed,” it mentioned. “Further time is required and extra info will probably be forthcoming on rescheduling.”

No further info was offered till 6:53 p.m. Saturday, after further work on the recount had been accomplished with none new notification. The Saturday night information launch introduced the canvass board would meet at 4 p.m. Sunday on the Historic Courthouse. It didn’t present any extra particulars on the trigger for delay, which wasn’t revealed till Sunday’s canvass.

“I apologize,” Caudillo instructed Dennis, who had expressed considerations about observers not figuring out the recount was ongoing Saturday. “I didn’t do something proactive to inform them.”

“Properly, I do know you didn’t do something proactive as a result of I solely requested you not less than two or thrice to be proactive and also you didn’t do it,” Dennis mentioned.

Commissioner Lacey Cruse, additionally on the canvassing board, tried to defuse the scenario: “I’m wondering if this may very well be a dialogue that we might have after—”

“No,” Dennis interrupted. “That is an open assembly at this time to debate the election and what we’re doing is we’re enjoying proper into the palms of the folks that say this isn’t an correct election.”

“Properly, perhaps we might change our tone in how we do it,” Cruse mentioned.

In response, Caudillo pointed to an absence of sources within the Sedgwick County Election Workplace to each conduct a recount and deal with public relations.

“Fairly frankly, I don’t have the sources in my workplace to do the job that I must do. … I don’t presently have the staffing desk I must do the entire work that I’ve to do together with the job that I’ve to do,” she mentioned.

The election workplace — which technically studies to the Kansas secretary of state however is funded by Sedgwick County — doesn’t have its personal spokesperson and depends on Sedgwick County strategic communications, which studies to the county supervisor, to write down and ship information releases.

“I devoted my time to making an attempt to have a look at the issues I wanted to have a look at to verify we might get this completed,” Caudillo mentioned. “And sadly, we weren’t in a position to meet our deadline.”

Dennis was not happy with Caudillo’s reply.

“There are a lot of folks that don’t consider our elections are truthful and correct,” he mentioned. “Now we have to make it possible for we do every little thing we will to dispel that delusion. I really consider they’re; I’m not saying that they’re not. I consider that we’re doing the appropriate factor. It’s simply that we now have to make it possible for we do our half to maintain the general public knowledgeable, and we’re not doing that.”

“I apologize, Mr. Chairman. I’ll do higher,” Caudillo mentioned. “Since observers confirmed up, I assumed they knew.”

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