CLINTON — Sydney Picou Walker has requested a recount of the paper ballots in Tuesday’s race for a 20th Judicial District Court judgeship, after losing the election by a mere 13 votes.
A review Friday morning of the parish’s voting machines, including those used in early voting, revealed no discrepancies between the votes recorded at the polls and the numbers published by the Secretary of State’s Office on election night.
According to the complete but unofficial returns, Betsy Jones won the election with 6,299 votes to Picou Walker’s 6,286 — a margin of only one-tenth of a percent.
The two attorneys, both Democrats, were competing for the seat held by Judge George “Hal” Ware Jr., who decided not to seek re-election.
A recount of the paper ballots submitted by mail, email, fax and from military service members will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Clerk of Court David Dart’s office, Dart said Friday afternoon.
Jones, a political newcomer, lives in East Feliciana, where she garnered 59 percent of that vote, while Picou Walker, a former police juror, took 65 percent of the vote in her home parish of West Feliciana.
Of the 1,761 early votes recorded in that race in East Feliciana Parish, 1,463 were cast at the Registrar of Voters Office, leaving 298 paper ballots to be recounted Monday.
Picou Walker could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
Asked about the recount request, Jones said, “It’s authorized under the law and will happen pursuant to the law.”
The verification of voting numbers done Friday was a normal part of the process following any election, Dart, the clerk of court, said.
Printing out yards of computer-tabulated results from behind each machine’s locked door, then painstakingly reading aloud and comparing the vote counts, Dart and members of the parish Board of Election Supervisors said they couldn’t recall a time the machines had turned up any errors.
School Board candidate Rufus “Coach” Nesbitt thought he had found one Friday morning that would have changed the outcome of the District 2, Division 1 race he lost by only three votes to incumbent Melvin L. Hollins.
The two voting machines from Precinct 13 had recorded nine votes in that School Board race — six for Hollins, three for Nesbitt — but election officials initially said that precinct had been removed from that School Board district during the most recent redistricting process.
Nesbitt said several people from Precinct 13 called him after the election, saying they saw his name on their ballot but were not allowed to vote for him.
Dart later confirmed a sliver of Precinct 13 does fall within the School Board district Nesbitt ran to represent and that the nine votes cast were legitimate.
Dart said Precinct 13 is one of many in East Feliciana that are split — meaning some people in the precinct can vote in a particular race while others cannot.
“It makes it very difficult for election officials because there are so many lockouts, but in this case, these votes were cast correctly,” Dart said.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen.