Louisiana sheriff's election nullified over illegal votes, new election ordered by judge

"It was proven beyond any doubt that there were at least 11 illegal votes cast and counted," the judge wrote in his ruling.

Published: December 6, 2023 1:20pm

Updated: December 6, 2023 5:53pm

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

The decision was made Tuesday 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.

“This runoff election involved a one-vote margin," Bleich wrote in his ruling. "It was proven beyond any doubt that there were at least 11 illegal votes cast and counted. It is legally impossible to know what the true vote should have been.”

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.

The Louisiana Supreme Court assigned the case to the retired justice after four judges recused themselves because of their friendships with Nickelson.

Whitehorn said he would appeal the court's decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal and "if necessary"  to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

"But, if we are unsuccessful at getting a reversal ... and forced to have a special election, my faith in God and my belief in the great people of Caddo Parish assures me that, for a third time, I will win the Sheriff’s race," he told KSLA News.

Said Nickelson: "The Court’s ruling is a victory for election integrity, and we should all be confident that in March the voters of Caddo Parish will make their voices heard definitively on who should be the next Sheriff of our parish."

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