Loser in narrow Putnam County Sheriff race challenges results

Jon Kinney came up 16 votes short in bid for sheriff, files legal challenge


PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The man whose bid for Putnam County Sheriff came up just short earlier this month has followed through on his promise to file a legal challenge to the election results.

Republican challenger Jon Kinney filed an election contest complaint Monday against the Putnam County Canvassing Board.

Kinney said that he believes there is sufficient evidence to doubt the results of the election, which ended with a 16-vote victory for Democrat Gator DeLoach.

The initial results showed Kinney with an 18-vote lead over DeLoach. During the recount, 428 “suspect ballots” were found that had not been entered into the voting machines. When the recount was done, DeLoach had a 16-vote lead.

READ: Jon Kinney legal challenge to election results

Among his reasons for questioning the final tally were “irregularities with the registration of voters by the Supervisor of Elections, mathematical errors in the certified election results, and the 'found' 428 ballots two days after the close of the polls.”

The complaint accuses Putnam County elections officials and members of the Putnam County Canvassing Board of misconduct.

In a press release, Kinney said that he wants to uphold the laws without consideration for who the violators are.

“If there had been a clear intention by the voters of Putnam County to chose Mr. DeLoach to be the next Sheriff, there would have been no challenge,” the release said.

Kinney also filed a notice of priority status to expedite the contest of the election.

Kinney said that he wants to resolve the matter as quickly as possible “so the voters and residents of Putnam County can have closure on this matter.”

He is seeking a declaratory judgment that would void the results, and his lawyer, Zachery Keller, hopes to have the first court hearing this week.

If the court finds Kinney's complaint valid, the judge could throw out the 428 ballots, which would give the race to Kinney; the judge could void the election and call on the governor to appoint an interim sheriff until the next general election in 2018; or the judge could order a new election.