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Election irregularities, fraud have led courts to overturn, order several new elections in 2023

Courts in Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin have all overturned election results in 2023.

Published: December 6, 2023 11:00pm

At least four elections in the U.S. have been overturned by courts this year after voting irregularities and fraud were discovered, prompting new balloting in most of those races. 

In 2020 and 2022 general elections, numerous lawsuits were brought challenging results amid alleged irregularities. This year, a few lawsuits have been decided on 2023 elections and on a 2022 election, which resulted in the initial results being overturned.

On Tuesday, a Louisiana judge voided the results of a local sheriff's race and ordered a runoff election after illegal votes were discovered.

The decision was made by retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice E. Joseph Bleich. He was assigned the case because the four justices on the bench had recused themselves citing conflict of interest.

A runoff date of March 23, 2024, has been set for the Caddo Parish sheriff's contest.

Democratic candidate Henry Whitehorn defeated GOP candidate John Nickelson by one point in the Nov. 18 election, leading to Nickelson requesting a recount.

Each candidate received three additional votes in the recount, still resulting in Whitehorn's one-vote victory.

Nickelson filed a lawsuit challenging the results and requesting a special election, claiming that illegal votes were cast, reported KTAL News, a local NBC affiliate.

Bleich ruled a new election take place after 11 illegal votes were discovered.

According to the decision, two people voted twice, at least five absentee ballots were counted that shouldn't have been because they failed to comply with the law, and four invalid votes cast by unqualified voters were counted.

In November, nearly a week before the mayoral general election in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a judge overturned the results of the election's Democrat mayoral primary and ordered a new election in connection to allegations of absentee ballot abuse

Bridgeport Superior Court Judge William Clark made the decision after a video was posted online that appeared to show a supporter of incumbent Democrat Mayor Joe Ganim stuffing stacks of papers into a ballot drop box, according to WNPR Connecticut Public Radio

Clark determined the allegations of possible malfeasance were sufficient to toss out the results of the Sept. 12 primary, which Ganim won by 251 votes out of 8,173 cast.

Absentee ballots secured Ganim's margin of victory, WNPR also reported

"The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties," Clark said. 

Despite the judge’s ruling, the mayoral general election was held Nov. 7. Ganim won against Democratic opponent John Gomes, even though the election ultimately didn’t count, the Associated Press reported.

The new primary is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2024, with a new general election to take place if needed on Feb. 22.

Also last month, the Fourth Court of Appeals in Texas affirmed a lower court’s ruling to flip the outcome of the 2022 District II Laredo City Council election, from Daisy Campos-Rodriguez being declared the winner to Ricardo Rangel Jr.

In February, a Texas district court judge ruled that 11 votes were illegally cast for Campos-Rodriguez in the November 2022 general election. Some of the votes were cast by multiple officers of the Laredo Police Department, which resulted in three being suspended while another had already retired. Campos-Rodriguez had originally been declared the winner by six votes.

The City Council requested Campos-Rodriguez to step down from her seat on the council following the February ruling, but she stayed on, continuing in her role.

Also, despite the Fourth Court of Appeals’ ruling, Campos-Rodriguez remains a City Council member, as she has 45 days after the November decision to petition the Texas Supreme Court for review.

On Tuesday, Rangel petitioned the state's high court  to “shorten time to file a petition for review” and “deny the motion for rehearing.”

In September, a Vilas County Circuit Court judge in Wisconsin set aside the results of a town board election in April because of votes that were illegally cast. The election was decided by a one-vote margin.

Former Presque Isle Town Board Chair John MacLean and former Town Clerk Lorine Walters, who was the clerk at the time of the election and oversaw its administration, received 483 votes in the election.

After two recounts affirmed the one-vote victory margin, MacLean objected to a ballot and questioned another ballot. He then filed a lawsuit, in which the judge found that two ballots had been illegally cast.

The judge set aside the results and ordered a new election be held Nov. 14. In the new election, MacLean won by 29 votes.

This year isn’t the only year that has had four elections overturned by courts.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s Voter Fraud Map: Election Fraud Database, 2018 is the only other year since 1992 in which as many as four elections have been overturned by courts. No other year matches or exceeds four overturned elections.

Phill Kline, director of The Amistad Project, told Just the News on Wednesday that election challenges aren’t new.

“There is a fairly consistent series of findings and cases that call into question individual election results, and that’s been the case for decades now,” he said.

“What’s new is really this false narrative that there has never been an issue of fraud” in how elections have been conducted in the U.S., he also said. 

There is a “system in place to intimidate people from raising questions” about elections, which “reduces faith in the election process,” Kline continued.

Since the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have raised concerns about election irregularities and are often called “election deniers” by Democrats and the media. 

However, Democrats largely do not receive the same label, despite their almost identical legal challenges in various jurisdictions.