sosrace.120618

Kyle Ardoin, left, Gwen Collins-Greenup

In something of mulligan to last year’s election, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin ended up in a runoff with Gwen Collins-Greenup, the same Democrat he defeated in the December 2018.

And part of the reason is the number of votes attracted by the same Republican, Thomas J. Kennedy III, who campaigned little but attracted a lot of support.

Though not all of the votes have been counted with 84 percent of the precincts reporting, there's no way for either Ardoin or Collins-Greenup to win outright.

Ardoin, 52, worked as a top deputy in the office and became interim Secretary of State when Tom Schedler resigned after being accused of sexually harassing an employee.

In 2018, Ardoin joined the race at literally the last minute to fill out the remaining year of Schedler’s term. Last year’s nine-candidate special election race was tense and close.

But Ardoin and Collins-Greenup, a Clinton Democrat, ended up in the December runoff. He defeated Collins-Greenup with 59 percent of the vote in low, 17 percent turnout race in December to become Louisiana's chief elections officer.

The two again found themselves as the main candidates for Secretary of State, this time for the full four years. Collins-Greenup was endorsed by the Democrats, Ardoin by the Republicans.

Amanda “Jennings” Smith, R-Bastrop, also is on the ballot.

President Donald Trump called out Ardoin as one the nation’s leaders in elections security during Friday’s Republican rally in Lake Charles,

"There's a lot of foreign influence trying to get folks to not believe in our system,” Ardoin told The Advocate.

Louisiana is one of only three states that still rely on paperless voting machines, which means it doesn’t keep voter-verifiable paper backups. One the big issues the secretary of state will have to tackle in the coming year is purchase new voting machines.

“Election security is a priority right now with interference in our outdated voter systems," said Collins-Greenup, a businesswoman.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.