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Redistricting to blame for Sulphur’s election confusion

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 10:11 PM CDT
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Sulphur, LA (KPLC) - Confusion still lingers after Saturday’s election in Sulphur when voters were being turned away because of a misunderstanding of the city’s district lines.

Only one item on the ballot in the City of Sulphur, City Council District 2.

“I can’t thank the citizens enough in District 2 for getting out to make their voices heard. Unfortunately, I wish it was with a lot less controversy,” Nicholas Nezat said.

Nicholas Nezat challenged incumbent Mike Koonce for the position and won Saturday’s election in a vote of 169 to 143, a difference of 26 votes.

“Saturday morning, we were walking and I started getting calls from people saying they were getting turned away at the polls,” Nezat said. “Which I knew wasn’t right because they literally lived right behind my house.”

A discrepancy that affected at least 30 voters, according to the Registrar of Voters, Kim Fontenot.

“The census came out,” Fontenot said. “They come out every 10 years. Due to the hurricanes and the pandemic, that was pushed back. So, when we got the information in January, we had an election in March. We had to do everything before qualifying in February. So, this was like a crunch detail we had to do and unfortunately we just missed a couple of streets.”

When looking at the changes from the old district map to the new one - there were two key areas affected in January’s redistricting.

New Sulphur City Council Districts.
New Sulphur City Council Districts.(City of Sulphur)
New Sulphur City Council Districts.
New Sulphur City Council Districts.(City of Sulphur)

“This all was district two,” Fontenot said pointing to the map changes. “As you can see it was split on Logan Street.”

Mathew Street and Irwin Street both intersect Logan. Parts of those streets were input in the wrong district when the redistricting happened.

Confusion also carried to Kent Street where only half of the street is District 2, across the street to the east is District 3.

Some residents on Mathews, Irwin and Kent streets were affected during Saturday's election when...
Some residents on Mathews, Irwin and Kent streets were affected during Saturday's election when their registrations were not updated to the correct districts after recent redistricting.(City of Sulphur)

Now, the question of a re-election still remains.

“All it is, is Mike’s going to have to file a suit,” Fontenot said.

7News did reach out to Mike Koonce asking if he plans on challenging the election, he said that is something he’s considering.

“Like I said Saturday,” Nezat said. “Win or lose that I felt that this wasn’t right. That I feel that even if it’s challenged, the outcome would still be the same, but things need to be looked into, why this took place, who was responsible. So, this doesn’t happen again in the future and that the voter integrity will be held.”

Any updates on information regarding the potential of a re-election and whether it would be held in April’s election or if a special election will be scheduled, 7News will provide updates as they come.

New Sulphur City Council Districts.
New Sulphur City Council Districts.(City of Sulphur)

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