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Electronic voting glitch reported in Delcambre race   (LA)


DELCAMBRE — Raywood Sons, who lost a disputed District 3 alderman’s race Saturday, wants to give Delcambre voters another chance to cast their votes following a computer programming error in voting.

In the areas of Delcambre’s District 3 located in Iberia Parish, Incumbent Alderman Timothy Derise received 36 votes for 65.45 percent, to Sons’ 19 votes for 34.55 percent. On the Vermilion Parish side the vote, 81.58 percent to 18.42 percent were in Derise’s favor, with 62 to 14 votes, respectively.

In the end, Derise won with 98 votes or 74.81 percent to Sons’ 33 votes or 25.19 percent.

Sons said a glitch in the Vermilion Parish Clerk of Court’s electronic voting system prevented District 3 voters in Delcambre from voting for him or for Derise, both Democrats, from the time the polls opened at 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It locked me and my opponent out from District 3 until 1 p.m.,” Sons said. “However, it did allow people in District 2 to vote for me and my opponent.”

Sherri Hadesky, director of election operations for the Louisiana Department of State, explained the voting machine error.

“Inside Delcambre District 3 there was Button One and outside District 3 there was Button Seven,” Hadesky said of the polling machines for Precinct 54. “Yet in the programming of the machine there was a mistake and the outside was actually the inside. When you pressed button one, the Delcambre race for District 3 should have lit up for a voter to vote, but it didn’t.”

Hadesky said the fact the mistake, which was limited to Precinct 54, went unnoticed so long was disturbing. “This was noticed at around 1 p.m., after approximately 60 people had voted in that precinct,” he said. “At 1 p.m. they gave correct voting instructions and from 1 p.m. forward people were able to vote correctly.”

Secretary of State spokesman Jacques Berry described what occurred as a “reverse lockout. There was no machine malfunction at all,” Berry said. “It was strictly a programming error that was discovered by a voter. We determined that 60 voters had cast votes in that precinct prior to 1 p.m. and those are the voters who should have had the opportunity to cast a vote in that election but did not.”

Sons is trying to get both his and Derise’s name on the ballot for the General Election Nov. 4. However, he said Vermilion Parish Clerk of Court Diane Broussard told him this was unlikely to happen. “I’m not looking for a special election,” Sons said. “I’m not looking to cost the taxpayers any more money. I’m looking for a correction, but both parishes have told me this has never happened before and they do not know what to do to correct it.”

Sons said he has until Monday to file an official protest with the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and said he is in the process of doing so. He also realizes some may view such a move on his part simply as him not wanting to face the fact of losing the election. “The people who voted for me believed I would stand up for them,” Sons said. “How can I do that if I can’t stand up for myself?”

Broussard expressed regret over the incident. “I’m very sorry this happened,” Broussard said. “We’re doing everything we can to attend to the problem immediately and are working with the Louisiana Secretary of State on it.”

Louisiana Commissioner of Elections Angie LaPlace, without commenting on this specific instance, said her office would abide by court rulings in election-related matters. “If a lawsuit is filed and a court rules on this election, we would follow the ruling,” LaPlace said.

Iberia Parish Clerk of Court Mike Thibodeaux did not comment as it was strictly limited to a voting precinct in Vermilion Parish, and phone calls to Derise have not been returned.

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