Many eyes were on Kansas on Tuesday night because of Amendment Two — better known as the Value Them Both Amendment.
Political experts and activists believe election results in Kansas will set the tone for a the rest of the country, or at least influence states as they make the own stances on the issue.
“Everybody was kind of interested in what was going to happen in Kansas because it was the first time that voters anywhere had a chance to vote on the issue of abortion,” Greg Vonnahme, chair of Political Science at the University of Missouri Kansas City, said. “The results — both in terms of the outcome, the margin and what it did to voter turnout, it was a shocking result I think for people both inside Kansas and outside Kansas.”
Vonnahme says election results for Amendment Two defied historical precedents when it comes to voting behaviors.
Voter turnout more than doubled in this year’s election when compared to the primaries in 2018.
In Johnson County specifically, turnout was up over 400%. The county saw about 50,000 voters in 2018 and more than 200,000 voters on Tuesday night.
“A lot of that was driven by Roe v Wade. You know, there was a constitutional, a U.S. constitutional protection for these rights, so whatever happened legally was pretty limited,” Vonnahme said. “The brakes came off.”
Without that protection, it gave swing voters and those who never voted the push to hit the polls.
“You might look at this and say, 'Well maybe people just really want to vote this election.' That’s not the case," Vonnahme said. "This was really specific to Kansas, because this was the one place abortion was on the ballot. Turnout in Missouri was actually a little bit down from 2018.”
Vonnahme says while abortion may have been a hot button item for the last few days, it has been a relatively settle issue for decades.
That is why predicting how abortion politics will go in the future is so difficult.
But this primary election created a new momentum that pushed voters and candidates to take a stance.
“I definitely think candidates are going to be looking at where this is effective,” Vonnahme said.
Dr. Patrick Miller, a professor at the University of Kansas, says more women and minority voters showed up Tuesday night.
Miller said it could indicate what could happen in other states with ballot initiatives come November.
“So I think we’ll definitely see abortion come up as a bigger issue in the fall, and it will be very interesting to see how candidates campaign on that and message on that,” Miller said.
Even without an abortion item on the ballot, both experts predict voters will care a lot about who fills the open seats.
Eyes are on the Kansas governor race, Missouri Senate race and the congressional race in Kansas’ third district.
“If you think the abortion issue is settled in Kansas, it’s not,” Miller said.