GONZALES — Ascension Parish Registrar of Voters Robert Poché says a mail-in ballot discrepancy that a candidate for justice of the peace uncovered last week is limited to no more than eight out of more than 2,500 ballots sent out for the Nov. 3 election.
Candidate Lynelle Johnson is running for the 3rd Justice Court in Ascension said a voter informed her that he received a ballot for the wrong justice of the peace race.
The 3rd Justice Court encompasses the eastern half of East Ascension, including parts of Prairieville and Gonzales, Lake, Sorrento, St. Amant, Galvez and Burnside. Ascension has two other justice courts.
Poché said a new worker in his office was hand-stuffing ballots into envelopes and apparently put ballots for one of those other courts, the 1st Justice Court race in Donaldsonville, into envelopes that should have contained ballots for the 3rd Justice Court race.
"The most she worked on that day was eight of them, so that doesn't mean she got them all wrong. I'm just saying that was the most she worked on that day," Poché said.
Of the eight possible ballots the worker handled, four have been confirmed to have the same envelope-stuffing error, he said.
Johnson, a Republican, is challenging two-term incumbent John C. Hebert, who lists his party as Independent, for the 3rd Justice Court seat.
In the 1st Justice Court race, incumbent Justice of the Peace Andrew Falcon is facing challengers Dwayne Bailey, Tamiko Francis Garrison and Charles Sanders. All are Democrats.
After Johnson brought one erroneous ballot to light, Hebert, the incumbent, identified three other people who received the wrong ballots, Poché said. Two of those people were in the same family.
"We sent them all new ballots," Poché said.
The ballot errors also affected a constable race in the same 1st Justice Court race in Donaldsonville but no other elections in Ascension, including those for municipal office in Donaldsonville and Gonzales, multi-parish district court judgeships and U.S. president, Poché said.
The four voters who received the wrong ballots of the justice of the peace race also incorrectly had the 1st Justice Court constable contest on them.
Those voters don't even have a vote for a constable this year. In those voters' district, the 3rd Justice Court, incumbent Constable James E. LeBlanc was reelected without opposition.
In 1st Justice Court, three are vying to replace longtime incumbent Andrew "Banana" LeBlanc III, who withdrew from the election after qualifying. They are Robert Gibson, Jeffery Henry Sr. and Murray Henry Walker. Henry and Walker are Democrats; Gibson lists no party.
Poché said he has not issued a broad warning about the error because he believes it is limited to the small set of ballots.
"If it had been plenty, I would have," he said. "I see no need to do so to excite people when I know for a fact it couldn't have been any more than eight of them," he said.
He said more than 2,500 mail-in ballots have been requested for the Nov. 3 election, a slight increase from previous years.
Poché encouraged voters to check their ballots and, if they received the wrong ballot, to contact his office.
The registrar of voters can be reached at (225) 621-5780.