Democrat Wins Louisiana Sheriff Election by Just 1 Vote with 43,000+ Ballots Cast

In the northwest corner of Louisiana, a candidate for parish sheriff demanded a recount Wednesday after losing by a single vote in an election where more than 43,000 people cast ballots.

The tight race shines a spotlight on Louisiana’s recount process and its outdated voting machines, which do not produce an auditable paper trail that experts say is critical to ensuring election results are accurate. States’ recount abilities have proven to be exceedingly important, especially following the 2020 presidential election when multiple battleground states conducted recounts and reviews to confirm President Joe Biden’s victory.

“This extraordinarily narrow margin … absolutely requires a hand recount to protect the integrity of our democratic process, and to ensure we respect the will of the people,” John Nickelson, the Republican candidate who trailed by one vote in last week’s election for Caddo Parish Sheriff, posted on social media Wednesday.

Henry Whitehorn, the Democrat who won the sheriff runoff, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Caddo Clerk of Court Mike Spence said he has seen close races during his 46-years of experience, but none with such a sizeable number of voters. Spence said he hopes this will teach residents that every vote matters.

When the recount takes place Monday (today) only absentee ballots will be tallied again and checked for errors. But they only account for about 17% of the total vote in the runoff race. Absentee ballots are mailed in and are the only auditable paper trail under Louisiana’s current voting system.

When it comes to the in-person votes, which are paperless, a recount would be similar to hitting a refresh button.

“(Election officials) test the machines beforehand and they test the machines afterwards, so it’s not blind faith going into this. … There are protections in place,” David Becker, a former attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division who works with election officials through the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research said. “That said, a recount of a paperless vote is essentially the equivalent of hitting the button again. … You’re basically getting a report on the tabulation again.”

Louisiana uses paperless touch screen voting machines bought in 2005. Once the most modern voting technology, today Louisiana is the only place where they are still used statewide.

Election officials, including Louisiana’s Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, have reiterated that the state’s elections are secure and there are checks and balances in place to ensure election integrity. Additionally, the state has received high marks for its election procedures, including from the legislative auditor in March.

However, the machines and their lack of a paper trail, have been a frequent target of criticism.

Louisiana has tried to replace the current machines for the past five years. But the ongoing process was delayed after allegations that the bidding process was rigged.

Secretary of State-elect Nancy Landry, a Republican who takes office in January, said implementing a new voting system is a top priority. However, given the extensive bidding process and trainings, she said new machines will not be in place ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Christie: Trump’s Intolerant Conduct ‘Gives Others Permission to Act the Same’

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that former President Donald Trump’s “intolerant language and conduct gives others permission to act the same.”

Anchor Dana Bash said, “I want to ask about the spike in hate against Jews in the United States. You told The New York Times that you believe Trump has contributed to this.”

Christie said, “When you show intolerance towards everyone, which is what he does, you give permission as a leader for others to have their intolerance come out. Intolerance towards anyone encourages intolerance towards everyone. That’s exactly what’s going on here. That’s been going on for some time, not just with Donald Trump, but with university professors on some of our most elite campuses in this country, with university administrators and presidents who have been unwilling to stand up against antisemitism on their campuses, most particularly. There should be no campus in this country where a Jewish student is afraid to leave their dorm, a Jewish student is afraid go to their classes, a Jewish student is afraid to go to have a meal in the dining hall. That is outrageous, and it’s wrong.”

He continued, “I think governors in those states should be sending state police to make sure that they are protected on those campuses. We need to have university presidents who are willing to stand up and be counted against hate. That’s exactly what’s going on here. We saw this display at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These are folks who are ignorant. My guess is two-thirds don’t know what intifada is. If they did, they would be ashamed for calling the elimination of the Jewish people around the world, which is what intifada is.”

Christie added, “In the end, look, I think that there have been a lot of people who contributed to it. I believe Donald Trump’s intolerant language and conduct gives others permission to act the same.”