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New Election in Caddo Sheriff’s Race in the Balance

The glare of the sun, along with local media, greeted Henry Whitehorn outside the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport on Monday, December 11.
Jeff Ferrell
Red River Radio News
The glare from sunny skies along with the local media greeted Henry Whitehorn outside the entrance to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in downtown Shreveport on Monday, December 11, 2023.

The disputed election to select a new Caddo Parish sheriff has already taken three and a half weeks since election day.

Now comes the wait. It’s been a long 24 days since a runoff election was supposed to result in the selection of a new sheriff for Caddo Parish. But parish citizens and leaders are still waiting. For constituents, this has been a frustrating race from election day on November 18.
Democrat Henry Whitehorn appeared to win by a single vote against Republican John Nickelson. Then a partial recount resulted in the same one-vote margin. Nickelson sued, claiming serious irregularities and mistakes in the election.
Just days later, Nickelson’s lawsuit resulted in a one-day trial, which took place on Thursday, November 30 in Caddo Parish District Court. The ad hoc judge in the case, retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Joe Bleich, ruled in Nickelson’s favor, saying it was impossible to figure out who won the Race for Caddo Sheriff. Judge Bleich voided the election results and ordered a new election.

Henry Whitehorn seen outside the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, in downtown Shreveport, Monday, December 11.
Jeff Ferrell
Red River Radio News
Henry Whitehorn seen outside the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, December 11.

Whitehorn appealed Bleich’s ruling. So, on Monday morning [December 11] a five-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of appeal heard arguments from both sides. While leaving court on Monday, Whitehorn said of the appeal process, “I feel good either way. I felt good throughout this process. I felt blessed going in and blessed going out. So, I’m good with it.”
Whitehorn was reticent to say too much, if anything, about the prospect of appealing the case to the Louisiana Supreme court. That is if Whitehorn should lose in appellate court.
As for Nickelson, he expects Bleich’s ruling to stand. “The argument we heard today [Monday] I believe indicates that the Court of Appeal will uphold that decision with the court here. And I look forward to hearing the court result.”
The Appeal Court panel then asked the lead attorneys for Whitehorn and Nickelson a host of questions. But they all boil down to one overarching question: ‘were the election irregularities and ballot errors enough to affect the outcome of the race?’”
Nickelson concludes, “Bottom line from my perspective, and I think from my counselor’s perspective, is that two people voted twice, and there’s a margin of just one. And so, we know just from the Supreme Court case that was discussed, Atkins, that that requires a new election.”
If the appellate court upholds the district court ruling, a new election is expected to take place on Saturday, March 23, as part of the Louisiana Primary Election. A ruling is expected shortly

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.