President Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida while claiming his “legal residence” was in another part of the country — Washington, D.C. — according to Florida elections records.
The September 2019 registration application listed Trump’s legal residence as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, the location of the White House. That created a potential problem for Trump: Florida law requires voters to be legal residents of the state. A month later, Trump resubmitted his application to use a Florida address and in March he voted by mail in Florida’s Republican primary.
The revisions complicate Trump’s own record as a voter at a time when the president has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in mail-in balloting.
Trump’s original voter-registration application, which was obtained by The Washington Post via a public records request, was filed during a time when the president was making a highly publicized move to change his permanent residence from his Manhattan penthouse to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla.
The voter application is dated Sept. 27, 2019 — the same day that Trump made the domicile change. On one of his forms that day he was telling Florida officials that his “legal residence” was Washington, D.C., and on another he was saying he was a “bona fide resident” of Palm Beach.
Florida voter-registration applicants are warned on registration forms that they may be subject to fines and even prison time if they do not provide truthful information.
There has been at least one recent instance in Florida in which a public official faced legal consequences for registering to vote at an address that was not her legal residence. Last year, the city manager of Deltona, Fl., entered into an agreement with the local state’s attorney’s office to pay more than $5,000 in fees and reimbursements for the state’s investigation to avoid being prosecuted on criminal charges in a voter-registration case. She had registered to vote using the address of Deltona’s City Hall, rather than her home address, and had cast ballots in elections using that registration.
In Palm Beach, where Trump has registered to vote, there was a high-profile arrest in 1993 of a popular restaurateur who was charged with voter fraud and briefly jailed because he registered to vote in Palm Beach but lived in the neighboring city of West Palm Beach. A felony charge in the case was eventually dropped.
A month passed before Trump filed the second voter registration application, this time listing 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach — the address of Mar-a-Lago — as his legal residence. There also was another difference: Trump’s original voter-registration directed election officials to send his registration materials to Mar-a-Lago in care of another person — Sean McCabe, a vice president and general manager of Trump Florida Properties in the neighboring city of West Palm Beach. (McCabe’s first name — Shawn — is misspelled.)
It’s unclear precisely what happened during the 31 days between Trump’s two applications. It’s possible that Florida elections officials flagged the D.C. address on the application and may have requested a change or clarification.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link and the state’s Division of Elections did not respond to written questions. Trump Organization representatives did not respond to written questions, and McCabe could not be reached for comment.
Trump has used his change of residency as a political tool, saying at the time of his announcement that he had been treated badly in New York. Beyond that, he hasn’t explained his reasons.
Voting outside the District of Columbia while serving as president is not uncommon. President Barack Obama cast his vote in the 2016 presidential election in his hometown of Chicago, and President George W. Bush voted by mail in Texas in the 2008 presidential election.
Trump, however, has sent confusing signals about his official state of residence beyond the recent change on his Florida voter-registration forms. On Monday, he declared, “I live in Manhattan,” during a call with the nation’s governors about the response to unrest related to protests over the death of an unarmed black man who had been held down by police in Minneapolis.