Monday, July 22, 2024

Judge orders new election in Caddo sheriff’s race decided by one vote

by BIZ Magazine

By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator

A  judge ruled Tuesday a new election must be held for Caddo Parish sheriff after one vote determined the victor in the Nov. 18 contest. The margin was upheld in a subsequent recount.

Henry Whitehorn, who was twice declared the winner, told KSLA-TV he will challenge the ruling of retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice E. Joseph Bleich. John Nickelson, who lost the election, filed a lawsuit to throw out the results after a Nov. 27 recount upheld Whitehorn’s victory. The recount turned up three additional votes for each man, leaving the winning difference unchanged.  

“It was proven beyond any doubt that there were at least eleven (11) illegal votes cast and counted,” Bleich wrote in his opinion. “It is legally impossible to know what the true vote should have been.”

According to the judge’s ruling, two people voted twice — one by mail and in person, and the other in the early voting period and on the day of the election. An official with the Louisiana Secretary of State verified the double voting, the opinion said.  

Also, at least five absentee/mail-in ballots “should not have been counted for failure to comply with the law,” and four votes cast by interdicted persons who were unqualified voters.

For election purposes, a court can interdict someone found to be mentally incapable of voting. Louisiana law also doesn’t allow the imprisoned to vote, although Bleich’s ruling doesn’t state the specific reason why the four people in question weren’t qualified to vote.

The five mail-in ballots that were rejected didn’t have a require witness signature, the ruling said.

“It defies logic in this particular case to conclude that it is possible to determine the accurate results of the runoff election, especially considering the one-vote margin,” Bleich wrote. “Just one illegal vote could have affected the outcome, and here, multiple illegal votes were cast and counted.”

John Tobler with the Louisiana Secretary of State said an election date won’t be set for the Caddo sheriff do-over until appeal plays out in court.

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