Sulphur council election may be contested - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Sulphur council election may be contested

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The candidate who lost by two votes in the Sulphur City Council race Saturday is considering contesting the results, after several voters were given the wrong ballot.

Regardless of the outcome, officials and council candidate Randy Hebert say there's a lesson here for voters.

Even before the April 5 election, officials warned that re-districting had created a lot of confusion by bumping some voters into new city council districts and some precincts split three ways. Which district you're in depends on where you live, and election officials say the maps were not as precise as they thought.

"It's just very confusing in that McArthur Street carried a little bit further north than what I could see on the map at that time," said Registrar of Voters Angie Quienalty.

So, three voters were basically given the wrong ballot, which may have caused Randy Hebert to lose the city council race against incumbent Dru Ellender. He lost by only two votes. About 18 voters were actually put in the wrong council district, but only four turned out to vote, and one of those four was disqualified for other reasons. 

"It's up to me to decide if I want to pursue and contest the election," said Hebert.

While he has yet to decide, Hebert does wish more people would get involved in the process.

"Every citizen has the responsibility to make sure they are registered correctly at the right address.  
There's a lot of hustle and bustle, I moved this long ago. And they just keep going back to their old polling place to vote. It mattered this time. There were people who wanted to vote for me who couldn't, because they never transferred their address," said Hebert.

Both the Calcasieu Clerk of Court Lynn Jones and Registrar Quienalty emphasize, if you think you're voting in the wrong district, raise the issue on election day and before you hit that cast vote button.

"Call the Registrar of voters on election day, and we will verify it, and if we have made a mistake, we will resolve it, and then you will be able to cast your vote that day. But not after you press cast vote. All of this has to be done before you press the cast vote button," said Quienalty.

Jones agrees: "If they do have a question, they need to make sure they voice that before they vote, because once they vote, there's nothing our commissioners can do or anyone else," he said.

If Hebert decides to contest the election, a judge will decide whether to uphold the vote and if not, the appropriate remedy. Hebert has until 4:30 p.m. on Monday to decide.

The reason for drawing new lines is to make sure each district has about the same number of people.  It's done after every census from small local races to U.S. Congress. Click here to view results from April 5 election.

For the May 4 election, voters in Sulphur Council District 4 and other races are encouraged to look at and check out their ballot before election day.

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