Urban County Council District 4 race likely heading to court after ballot snafu

·3 min read

With the race likely to be decided in Fayette Circuit Court because of a balloting error, unofficial results show that J. “Brack” Marquette and Brenda Monarrez are leading Barry Saturday for the fourth district seat on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council.

With 100% of the precincts reporting, Monarrez received 39.21% of the vote and Marquette 31.05% to Barry Saturday’s 29.74%.

Marquette, 68, is a retired higher education department chair who has served as a government agency official and a government affairs executive.

Monarrez, 50, is a small business owner. Saturday, 42, is a stockbroker and financial advisor and a former teacher.

The race took a tense turn Tuesday when at least two precincts in the 4th District Urban Council Race received the wrong paper ballots during Tuesday’s primary election, according to Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr.

They put them on the wrong tables and voted about 71 people before they discovered the problem, said Blevins.

The difference for the second and third place candidate in the race were separated by less than 50 votes.

“A recount will not help this situation because 30-something-people didn’t get to vote for the fourth district race like they were supposed to. Thirty-something people got to vote in a race they weren’t supposed to. So a recount is not going to fix that. So really a judge is going to have to decide, ‘What do you do about this?’ So that is out of my hands. We are going to let the justice system straighten that one out,” Blevins said.

In the Lansdowne Elementary polling place, which is where both the Leawood and Cedar Run precincts vote, the ballots were swapped and the mistake was not caught for about four hours.

Fayette County switched to new machines which use paper ballots that are then scanned in.

Crime, traffic, affordable housing and planning are among the key issues for the city council candidates who want to represent a district south of New Circle Road between Nicholasville and Tates Creek roads in Lexington.

Monarrez said earlier in the day Tuesday that there was an issue in the Cedar Run precinct polling location. She said that a voter said they attempted to vote for her in the morning and the 4th district race was not on their ballot. The voter brought it to the attention of the person in charge.

“Apparently their ballots were mixed up with the Leawood precinct, since their ballot had already been scanned, they were not allowed to vote on a corrected ballot, the polls had been open several hours by the time the error was caught,” said Monarrez.

Monarrez said that she contacted Blevins office to ask about the problem and was told it had been corrected. But there could be a number of people who voted in the wrong district and once their ballot is scanned they can’t vote again, she was told. “The only way to correct it would be to have a hearing at the clerk’s office,” she said. “Most people don’t have the time to go down there and have a hearing.”

“We’ll see what happens when the courts take a look at it,” said Saturday. “I wish the other candidates well and am confident that Blevins and the court (if necessary) will make the right decision for our 4th District voters.”

Marquette said he appreciated Blevins’ “work in trying to make it right.”

“We’ll support whatever his decision is in how to handle it moving forward,” Marquette said.

Staff writer Taylor Six contributed to this report.