Court appoints judge

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 31, 2007

VIDALIA — The Louisiana State Supreme Court has appointed a judge to hear the election contest filed by sheriff candidate Glenn Lipsey.

The contest will go before the seventh district judicial court at 10 a.m. Friday, but because both Judges Kathy Johnson and Leo Boothe recused themselves from the case the court had to appoint a judge pro temp for the hearing.

Lipsey lost the Oct. 20 primary election to incumbent Sheriff Randy Maxwell by 21 votes.

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Judge John Harrison, of Monroe, will hear the contest.

Concordia Parish Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Webber said he has never seen an election contest of this nature before.

In the official civil suit filed to contest the election, the Lipsey campaign listed the names of almost 100 voters whose votes they wanted to contest.

“We have had a few contests concerning whether or not someone lived in the district they were running for before, but we’ve never had anything like this,” he said.

Webber said he has no way to predict what direction the judge might take during the hearing.

“The judge has several options available to him, and it’s completely up to him which way he goes,” Webber said.

According to state statute, if the trial judge finds a vote to be fraudulent, the judge may subtract that vote from the total number of votes cast for a candidate.

Likewise, if the judge finds that legal votes were excluded from the final count, those votes can be added to the final count.

Lipsey is contesting the election on the grounds that some persons who voted were not qualified to do so in the parish or the precinct in which they cast their vote.

“We have solid evidence that some people who voted have homestead exemption in another parish or another state,” Lipsey’s attorney Andy Magoun said. “With some others, it’s a toss-up as to where they say they spend their days.”

Some voters also may appear on the voting register for both Concordia Parish and Adams County, Magoun said.

The Lipsey team will try to find out if those voters are voting on both sides of the river or if they have legitimately moved to the parish and their names were left on the county rolls as an oversight, he said.

Since filing the necessary civil suit listing the names of voters whose votes are being contested, some names have been removed after voters contacted the campaign, Magoun said.

“Obviously we were in a time jam to sort through all of who voted and check that they are residents of Concordia Parish,” Magoun said. “If someone calls us with a legitimate complaint about being included in the list (of votes contested), we will certainly accommodate them and remove them.”

Other allegations Lipsey’s campaign has leveled are of vote buying, voting by convicted felons, improper prisoner transport for voting and assistance in voting provided to those who did not qualify for it under the law.

“We are not alleging the people who may have voted with assistance contrary to the law committed voter fraud,” Magoun said. “We are contesting the procedure in which they voted. That is incumbent on the registrar of voter’s office and the (election) commissioners on the site.”

The Lipsey suit also alleges some qualified voters were turned away at the polls.

“We have requested the court count the Lipsey votes and declare him the winner,” Magoun said. “But that’s not a likely scenario.”

The court can also throw the election out and order a new election or it can throw the contest out, Magoun said.

The outcome of the suit can be appealed to a higher court.

“I would think both sides would exhaust the appeal process, however it turns out,” Magoun said.