Photo by Jill Pickett/AP
Louisiana Supreme Court justice Joseph Bleich ruled on Tuesday that the election results of the Caddo Parish Sheriff race are now null and void after “voting irregularities” was discovered.
Democrat candidate Henry Whitehorn was the apparent winner of a Louisiana runoff election on November 18, beating Republican opponent John Nickelson by just one vote.
Bleich made the decision to overturn the results of the election after “It was proven beyond any doubt that there were at least 11 illegal votes cast and counted.”
Bleich said that it “is legally impossible to know what the true vote should have been.”
Bleich claimed that among those 11 illegally cast votes, were at least five absentee mail-in ballots that were missing a required witness signature and should not have been counted, two people voted twice and four votes were cast by unqualified people.
“The unofficial results of the sheriff race between me and my opponent indicated a one-vote margin out of more than 43,000 votes,” Nickelson said in a media release after the election. “That’s something that hasn’t happened as far as we can tell in more than a century in this country, it’s truly unprecedented.”
Whitehorn had argued in a brief submitted to the First Judicial District Court: “The judiciary should not decide elections. Louisiana courts have made it clear that the results of an election are to be disturbed only under extraordinary circumstances where a plaintiff introduces compelling evidence that is sufficient to change the result in the election.”
Bleich justified his ruling declaring the results null and void and said that Louisiana state law that pertinently states: “A. If the trial judge in an action contesting an election determines that: (1) it is impossible to determine the result of election, or (2) the number of qualified voters who were denied the right to vote by the election officials was sufficient to change the result in the election, if they had been allowed to vote, or (3) the number of unqualified voters who were allowed to vote by the election officials was sufficient to change the result of the election if they had not been allowed to vote … the judge may render a final judgment declaring the election void and ordering a new primary or general election for all the candidates…”
Whitehorn said that he will challenge the ruling and stated that “The significance of a single vote cannot be underestimated,” he said in a statement. “Overturning an election because the winner won by one vote is essentially saying, ‘Every vote matters, except if the win is by one.’”
Nickelson said that he was grateful for the ruling, which he called “a victory for election integrity.”
Just last month a judge ordered a redo of a Democratic mayoral primary in Connecticuts largest city due to the possibility of ballot stuffing.