Independent voters in Kansas, step forward. You’re on the clock on the most important issue you’ll face this year: abortion.

That became clear this week when Donald Trump endorsed Attorney General Derek Schmidt for governor. (Interestingly, the former president endorsed Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán the same day. We’ll be watching for the Schmidt-Orbán campaign flier.)

Whatever the reason, Trump’s decision takes even more energy out of the Kansas GOP primary. And the complete lack of partisan interest will have a major impact on the only thing that will really matter in August, the vote on abortion rights.

In 2019, you’ll recall, the Kansas Supreme Court said abortion was a fundamental right, which curbed legisla-tive intervention in the procedure. Pro-life Republicans were outraged, demanding a statewide vote on amending the state constitution and overturn the court’s decision.

They might have had that vote in 2020, but pro-lif-ers wanted the vote in August, not November. The idea? Competitive GOP primaries would drive pro-life turnout, while less engaged Democrats and unaffiliated voters would stay home. Voila! The amendment passes.

To their credit, sensible Republicans in the Legislature said no, the higher-turnout November election would

be a better choice. Something this important, they said, deserved full consideration by the full electorate.

They won the battle in the spring of 2020, but lost the war that summer, when GOP primary voters booted the moderates from office. So August 2022 it is.

Except … it now appears there will be few truly compet-itive primaries in August. Sure, Kris Kobach will be lurk-ing around, and Scott Schwab may face an opponent for secretary of state, but the governor’s primary race will be a dud, and congressional primaries will be sleepy too.

Trump’s endorsement of Schmidt has further weakened the high August turnout theory. Pro-lifers can’t rely on Republican turnout alone to prevail.

Some supporters of the amendment are just fine with that. So are some pro-choice activists. Now, the work of motivating their core supporters can go on, without dis-tractions. A U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade might energize voters as well. The Trump-Schmidt embrace means we might actually

get a real debate on the merits of the abortion amend-ment, without political ballot manipulation or turnout-de-pendent results.

But it also means unaffiliated voters in Kansas will now play a huge role in the outcome. We need to say this, over and over again: Independent voters cannot cast ballots in Kansas candidate primaries this August, but they can and should vote on the abortion amendment.

Those votes could be the difference between success or failure. We’re looking at you, Johnson County: More than 117,000 of your registered voters don’t belong to either major party. That’s more than 26 percent. There are more unaffiliated voters in Kansas than there are registered Democrats.

So let’s start with some facts. The Kansas Supreme Court did not legalize all abortions in the state. It said abortion limits must meet a “strict scrutiny” standard, which is a legal way of saying you have to have a really good reason for any rules you impose.

The strict-scrutiny bar is too high for pro-lifers. The August amendment would explicitly declare the Kansas Constitution does not include an abortion right, and allow Kansas legislators to use looser, lower standards to restrict abortion.

Kansans will now decide who’s right. Trump’s endorse-ment of Schmidt is an invitation for all the state’s voters to take part, not just partisan Republicans and Democrats. Independents need to accept that invitation.

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