Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Motion Seeks to Block Putnam Sheriff Installation; Kinney Wants Vote Dispute Resolved before DeLoach Is Sworn In

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Motion Seeks to Block Putnam Sheriff Installation; Kinney Wants Vote Dispute Resolved before DeLoach Is Sworn In

Article excerpt

Byline: Garrett Pelican

A judge will hear an emergency motion Friday morning seeking to block the certified winner of the Putnam County sheriff's race from taking office in the new year.

Attorneys for Republican candidate Jonathan Kinney, who lost a close race to Democrat Gator DeLoach III, want Circuit Judge Gary Wilkinson to prevent DeLoach from assuming office until an election challenge is resolved.

Kinney's attorneys filed a motion Thursday asking for a court order to that effect, saying the county canvassing board did not follow the rules while counting votes. The case will be heard in Clay County because a Putnam County judge sits on that canvassing board.

"Until we're able to kind of unravel what exactly the will of the voters was, because we have a mistrust of the work done by the canvassing board, we're asking the court to delay Mr. DeLoach from taking office," said attorney Zachery Keller, who represents Kinney.

It's not clear if the judge will make a ruling on that motion at Friday's hearing.

The motion says the canvassing process was flawed, citing a series of allegations previously detailed in an election complaint filed last month. The canvassing board mishandled ballots, included invalid ones cast by ineligible voters and skirted state public meetings laws, according to the motion.

DeLoach and Elections Supervisor Charles Overturf, who are named defendants in the case, did not return calls seeking comment. Neither did attorneys for DeLoach and the canvassing board.

The race has invited controversy since Election Day when unofficial returns showed Kinney ahead with 48.51 percent of the vote compared to 48.46 percent for DeLoach - a difference of 18 votes.

The narrow margin meant an automated recount, which is required whenever unofficial returns have a candidate for office winning or losing by 0. …

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