LIVINGSTON — Jason Ard’s win in the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s race was confirmed following the recount of the absentee votes Thursday morning.
Ard edged Brett McMasters in Saturday’s election by a margin of 115 votes. Killian Alderman Brent Ballard requested the recount on Brett McMasters’ behalf.
Thursday’s recount results added three more votes for Ard and one for McMasters. That increased Ard’s win total to 117 votes.
The recount results will be certified either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.
Livingston Parish Clerk of Court Jason Harris said McMasters’ campaign wrote a letter on Oct. 16 requesting a recount for the sheriff’s race.
McMasters, a military veteran and Walker businessman, received 49.84 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election, according to complete but unofficial election returns. McMasters ran to improve the department’s handling of crimes against children directly challenging Ard’s leadership in handling the Dennis Perkins scandal. Perkins was a SWAT commander who pled guilty numerous sex charges involving juveniles and adults.
Incumbent Jason Ard took away 50.16 percent of the votes with the two candidates separated by 115 votes.
The recount Thursday involved 2,140 absentee ballots. It did not include recounting the machines from Saturday. As in every parish around the state, on the third day after elections, every clerk of court is required to certify the votes to verify there were no mistakes. If there were any mistakes, they’re reported to the Secretary of State’s Office. If there are no mistakes, the clerk of court certifies the results and turns that over to the Secretary of State’s Office. The machines were certified on Oct. 17.
Livingston Parish Registrar Jerad Andrews said nearly 90 percent of the mail in ballots are people who are over the age of 65. The other 10 percent include military personnel and people in circumstances where they cannot physically get to a poll to vote.
Clerk responds to rumors of faulty voting machines
Harris said there was one incident with a voting machine in the Watson area on election day, but the problem was resolved.
“My understanding is there was a machine, and the voter said they couldn’t vote or it wouldn’t light up. I don’t know exactly what happened,” Harris said. “The technician went out, fixed it, brought the machine back up, and continued throughout the day.”
Harris said they had over 218 voting machines in the parish, and none broke and had to be shut down for the rest of the day.
He said a machine won’t light up at times, a bulb will be out, or it won’t make a sound when a ballot is cast. For those circumstances, there are protocols in place. He said if someone had an issue with a machine and let the workers at the site know, they would be moved to a working machine.
“The commissioner, if they made aware of it, will shut that machine down on purpose until the Secretary of State technician can get there,” he explained. “Once a technician gets there, he will repair it. Whatever it is, he will bring the machine back up to continue voting. A lot of times the voter maybe didn’t press hard enough or press on the right spot. It could be a voter error as well.”