(1) The election commissioner or county clerk shall permit the petitioner, the person whose election is being contested, and their attorneys to fully examine the ballots. The election commissioner or county clerk shall make return to the writ, under his or her hand and official seal, of all the facts which either of the parties may desire and which appear from the ballots to affect or relate to the contested election. After the examination of the ballots is completed, the election commissioner or county clerk shall again securely seal the ballots as they were and preserve and destroy them as provided by law in the same manner as if they had not been opened. The certificate of the election commissioner or county clerk certifying the total number of votes received by a candidate shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated in the certificate, but the persons present at the examination of the ballots may be heard as witnesses to contradict the certificate.
(2) If the ballots or notarized copies of the ballots were examined as part of an election contest for a seat in the Legislature, the Legislature shall return such ballots or notarized copies of such ballots to the election commissioner or county clerk at the conclusion of the election contest.