LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - You could hardly blame Mark Eckard for asking for a recount, since with one more vote he could avoid a runoff. As always after an election, officials went to the warehouse to inspect the machines as part the process to certify the results.
Says Eckard, "You know you always hope and pray for a miracle but I think the chances are very slim that we would actually come up with a different total. However, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't look, just because it is just one vote ."
There's little margin for error with computerized voting machines and no mistakes were found. From the warehouse it was on to the Calcasieu Registrar of Voters Office to count paper ballots mailed in and examine early voting totals. When all was said and done the Saturday results stood, forcing Eckard into a runoff. He says, "There was never a doubt that it was fair and square we were just looking to make sure there wasn't a piece of paper stuck together somewhere two papers didn't stick together or something." So what happens now? "We campaign for two weeks," he says after wrapping up at the courthouse.
But then later in the afternoon, a new twist: Candidate John Fontenot announces that he doesn't want to force a runoff over just one vote. "I really, really was dedicated and wanted this position to work for the city of Lake Charles. For one vote I cannot put the city through all the financial burden and the candidates and south Lake Charles through this hard work that I will step down graciously and give this to Mr. Eckard. Mark has worked as hard as I have but he had the fifty percent. So I would hope that had it been opposite, he would've given me the extra vote. Which, basically I'm giving him the vote he needs."
Fontenot plans to send the Louisiana Secretary of State a notarized letter stating his decision to withdraw in order make it official. Eckhard expresses his gratitude saying it's good for unity in the district. And it's a reminder every vote does count. Says Eckard, "Your vote counts. Believe me it counts."