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Johnson County sees spike in registered voters ahead of Aug. 2 primary

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 16:50:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A constitutional amendment related to abortion seems to be driving more Johnson County voters toward the polls.

The Johnson County Election Board reported a 5.4% increase in registered voters for the August 2022 primary compared to the August 2020 primary with Democrats and independent voters registering in the highest numbers.

The number of Democrats grew by 7.9% compared to 0.1% growth for registered Republicans, but unaffiliated voters accounted for an even larger increase.

While Johnson County’s Democratic voter rolls gained more than 10,000 registered voters, the county gained more than 12,000 unaffiliated voters — a 10.9% increase.

There are still more registered Republicans (186,532) than Democrats (140,562) or unaffiliated voters (123,437).

Registered Libertarians actually had the highest growth, according to numbers provided by the election office.

There are now 5,756 registered Libertarians, which is up 12.4% from the 5,121 for the August 2020 primary.

Despite the growth, Libertarians account for 0.01% of all registered voters in the county (456,287). Republicans account for 40.9% followed by Democrats (30.8%) and unaffiliated voters (27.1%).

“There’s a great deal of interest in the election,” said Fred Sherman, Johnson County election commissioner. “We’re excited to see so many people take an interest in exercising their right to vote.”

Voters will decide Tuesday, Aug. 2, whether to pass a constitutional amendment that would set the stage for legislators to outlaw abortion in Kansas.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in April 2019 that the state constitution protects access to abortion, but voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution and give the state legislature the power to regulate abortion.

A ruling last month by the Supreme Court of the United States in Dobbs v. Jackson, an abortion case originating in Mississippi, overturned a nearly 50-year precedent set in Roe v. Wade and set the stage for conservative states to enact strict abortion laws and bans, including a trigger ban in Missouri that went into effect after the Dobbs ruling was handed down June 24.

Kansas, where the legislature is heavily packed with conservatives, almost certainly would pursue a similar path should voters approve the constitutional amendment.

If voters reject the constitutional amendment with a majority voting no, it would keep the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in effect.