Christopher Chestnut investigated for election fraud

Christopher Chestnut
Christopher Chestnut


The Florida Department of State has referred an election fraud complaint against Christopher M. Chestnut to Larry Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, and Bill Cervone, State Attorney for the 8th Judicial Circuit in Gainesville, in a December 27 letter.

The complaint alleges that Chestnut “fraudulently voted in Florida in the 2018, primary and general elections while a resident of another state, Georgia. If true, this implicates potential violations of section 104.15, Florida Statutes (unqualified voters willfully voting) and 52 U.S.C. §§ 10307(c) and 20511 (providing false information in order to vote in a federal election).”

The Florida statute states that “Whoever, knowing he or she is not a qualified elector, willfully votes at any election is guilty of a felony of the third degree”; the federal law provides for a fine of not more than $10,000, not more than five years imprisonment, or both.

The 2018 election featured Democrat Andrew Gillum as a candidate for Florida governor; Chestnut and Gillum’s friendship goes back to high school, and Chestnut has been described as Gillum’s “best friend.”

The basis of the complaint that prompted the referral is that Chestnut purchased a condominium in Atlanta in 2014 and has consistently used that as his address since then. Prior to 2018, he had not voted in Alachua County since the 2012 general election, and his voter registration had become inactive (Florida law states that a voter’s status becomes inactive when the voter does not respond to a pre-addressed, postage paid address confirmation final notice within 30 days about whether their registration address is still valid. It is currently unknown when Chestnut’s status became inactive). Inactive voters remain eligible to vote until they are removed from the official list of registered voters.

Chestnut’s voting status became active when he requested a vote-by-mail ballot in August 2018. The documents with the election fraud complaint showed that Chestnut used the condominium address (1080 Peachtree St NE, #2915, Atlanta, GA, 30309) in a Voluntary Petition for Bankruptcy on April 16, 2018. The petition said that the reason he used that address was “Over the last 180 days before filing this petition, I have lived in this district longer than in any other district.” That document was signed by Chestnut “under penalty of perjury.”

When Chestnut requested the vote-by-mail ballot, he had to provide an address for his residence; Chestnut’s voter registration address is 911 NE Blvd., Gainesville, FL, 32601, which is owned by Cynthia M. Chestnut and Charles S. Chestnut III. Cynthia Chestnut is the Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Alachua County. 

The 2018 primary election was on August 28, 2018. The documentation in the complaint also includes a court order dated October 19, 2018, that showed the Atlanta address for Christopher Chestnut. The general election was on November 6, 2018, and another court document dated December 20, 2018, still used the Atlanta address for Chestnut. The complaint also included a court document dated November 21, 2019, still using the Atlanta address.

The state is still waiting for the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office to “ascertain the duration of claimed residency” at the Gainesville address, as well as the duration of inactive voter status and the address to which the vote-by-mail ballot was requested to be sent. 

Christopher Chestnut ultimately voted in person in the Florida primary and general elections in August and November, 2018. 

The letter concludes that the “issue appears to have merit and warrant further investigation.” Meanwhile, Chestnut is still on the voting rolls in Florida and is eligible to vote in upcoming elections.