After three ballots that had been locked away since the March 7 Democratic primary were counted Tuesday, Frieda Porter was no closer to an outright win in the Justice of the Peace Precinct 7 race.
Under the results posted on the Tarrant County Elections website, Porter was at least 26 votes short of 50 percent. She had 6,830 votes, or 49.91 percent, while Kenneth Sanders had 5,637 votes, or 41.19 percent, and Dustin Ray Webb had 1,219 votes or 8.91 percent.
With mail-in ballots added to the tally, Porter gained 18 votes since election night while Sanders added 19 and Webb 3.
Porter has until 5 p.m. Monday to ask for a recount. Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia originally said she had until 5 p.m. Wednesday but said she has two business days after the party convenes to ask for a recount. Tarrant County Democratic Party officials aren't meeting until Thursday.
But she wasn't happy with what took place on Monday when election officials initially counted votes from the wrong box.
"I'm not feeling very confident about what going on," Porter said. "I feel cheated because what I saw going on yesterday was incompetence."
Porter said she has had no conversations with Tarrant County Democratic Party officials. Party chairwoman Deborah Peoples said Tuesday night there will be a runoff following the count of Monday’s votes.
The Tarrant County party had sued to have the three provisional votes counted last week.
Garcia said there was a court order to unseal the box and staff simply grabbed the wrong one.
Precinct 7 covers Mansfield, parts of south Arlington and southeastern Tarrant County.
Porter said she has had no conversations with Tarrant County Democratic Party officials.
Sanders, who finished second in the race, said he felt satisfied with the way the ballots were counted and is preparing for the May 22 runoff.
"I didn't see anything that troubled me," Sanders said.
Fort Worth attorney Steve Maxwell, who filed the suit on behalf of the Democratic Party, said the uncounted provisional ballots being placed in locked box with ballots that had already been counted was "an honest mistake" by the election judge.
Once an election box is locked, it can only be unlocked by a judge's order.
"This is something that has happened in the past," Maxwell said. "Provisional ballots are a whole different animal. It's happened before and it will happen again. There's nothing nefarious about it."
While Porter has expressed skepticism about the counting of votes on Monday, Maxwell said he is satisfied nothing out of the ordinary occurred.
"It was a completely bipartisan crowd who witnessed this," Maxwell said. "Both candidates were there. The reason I'm convinced that the proper protocol was followed is that we knew there were only three ballots we were dealing with."
The winner of the JP 7 race will face the Republican incumbent Matt Hayes in November.