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Analysts: Caddo Sheriff's Race Likely Requires New Election

Jeff Ferrell
Red River Radio News

Errors, discrepancies on display at Caddo Sheriff's Race lawsuit hearing leading many to suspect a special election will be ordered after one-vote margin.

We should know by next week whether or not a special election will be held in the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s race. A daylong hearing in Caddo District Court took place on Thursday [November 30] to address the lawsuit filed by Republican John Nickelson. The suit challenges the results of the Saturday, November 18 election. Just one vote separated Nickelson from Henry Whitehorn out of more than 43 thousand total ballots cast in the race. Then a recount on Monday confirmed Whitehorn’s one-vote victory, officially making him the Caddo Parish Sheriff-elect.
Witnesses involved in every aspect of the election testified on the process in court. That included information on the two people who voted twice, along with an analysis of absentee ballots, some of which reportedly lacked either a proper signature or witness. Judge Joe Bleich has called on Nickelson’s legal team to submit a written brief by noon on Saturday, December 2. Then Whitehorn’s team will submit a response by noon on Monday, December 4, before the judge issues his ruling.


Nickelson addressed the media immediately after the hearing. “Look, I think this is absolutely an opportunity for Louisiana, and in particular our state legislators, to really take a hard look at the processes and procedures around absentee ballots. We all want everyone to have an opportunity to vote. But we have to make sure that the votes that are counted are what voters intend and that we are taking the steps necessary to ensure that the votes submitted are from the voters they claim to be from.”
Court observers included local retiree Jon S. Glover. She says the hearing revealed systemic problems with local elections that all but guaranteed the need for a new election. “It’s going to cause such havoc in our city, in our parish. The havoc is because you have those who believe that this is not a race for the sheriff anymore, but a race against a black and a white. They’ve all but put aside the party affiliation, though it is the party affiliation that’s driving this.”
Glover says just because she is a black woman, that fact does not automatically make her an advocate for Henry Whitehorn. For example, she says there’s a lot of talk about his impressive 40-year work history. But she says there is very little in the way of accomplishments. She also challenges Whitehorn’s claim that he would never have brought a lawsuit of his own – if he had lost the Caddo Sheriff’s office by one vote. We spoke with Whitehorn immediately after the court hearing. But just one Day after his big news conference, in which he challenged the credibility of the election lawsuit, Whitehorn told us he’ll let his attorneys do the talking for now.
Shreveport attorney and political analyst Royal Alexander echoed a very common sentiment that this case will eventually make its way to the Louisiana Supreme court. “We’re the third largest parish in the state, it’s a big election. I could see the supreme court weighing in on this, I could. But I do not believe it will be resolved at the district court level. Someone will be appealing.”
Alexander concluded that Nickelson’s legal team presented an effective argument that even a handful of mistakes could easily have changed the outcome of the race. And therefore, he too anticipates the judge will call for a new election. The earliest that could happen, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office is during Louisiana’s primary election on Saturday, March 23.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.