Judge settles dispute over absentee ballots in Marion Co. sheriff's race



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A judge awarded thousands of absentee ballots to the replacement candidate in the Marion County sheriff's race.

Republican Chris Blair and Constitution Party candidate Bernie DeCastro were in a tug-of-war over whether the ballots should be thrown out.

DeCastro said the votes shouldn't have counted because they were cast for Republican nominee Dan Kuhn, a candidate who is no longer in the race. He challenged at least 8,000 absentee ballots in a Marion County courtroom.

Monday, a judge ruled that ballots cast for Kuhn will be awarded to the GOP replacement candidate, Chris Blair.

"There's a lot of voters out here now that are very angry, because they lost their vote. How would you feel if somebody took your vote and gave it to somebody else?" asked DeCastro.

Kuhn dropped out of the race last month amid allegations of an extra-marital affair, but under state law, his votes now go to Blair.

"It's not for me to re write a statue. It is clear that any ballot cast for Dan Kuhn will be counted for Chris Blair," said Judge Jack Singbush.

The ballots had already been printed when Kuhn dropped out of the race.

That's why during early voting and on Election Day voters must vote for Kuhn to vote for Chris Blair.

"Both Dan and I are Republicans, so I think they'll look at that and take it as a point of interest. They know me well enough since I've been out here a long time and established 47 percent of the vote in the primary," said Blair.

DeCastro can appeal to a higher court, but any action on that would have to be handled after the election.