Mail-in ballots delivered to President Trump and Melania at Mar-a-Lago: report

Trump appeared to admit this week he'd refused to approve USPS aid in order to sabotage plans to expand mail voting

Published August 14, 2020 5:32PM (EDT)

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive to the South Lawn of the White House (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive to the South Lawn of the White House (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Editor's Note: This article has been updated since it was originally published with additional reported information clarifying that a Florida Republican Party official dropped off the Trumps' ballots at Mar-a-Lago.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have requested and received mail-in ballots for next week's primary elections in Florida.

CNN host Ana Cabrera reported on the mail-in ballots hours after the president appeared to publicly admit the reason for his opposition to supplemental election funding for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) was for the purpose of sabotaging plans to expand voting by mail.

"They need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions of ballots," Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. "If they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting. Because they're not equipped."

The developments come amid reports that Trump met with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for a "congratulatory meeting" at the White House last week.

According to Cabrera, records with the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections show that the Trumps' ballots were delivered Wednesday to Mar-a-Lago, where the president declared residency last November in what may be a violation of federal election law.

The ballots were reportedly picked up by Florida Republican Party official Alex Garcia and dropped off at Mar-a-Lago. The Trumps at the time were at the president's golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. It is unclear what delivery method carried the ballots there from the president's Palm Beach club and then back.

Trump, who views Florida as a critical swing state, cited "tax purposes" as the primary reason why he had changed his residence from New York. He cast a mail-in ballot during Florida's presidential primary in March, even though he reportedly drove by a polling place in person at least six times that month.

"It's illegal," Reginald Stambaugh, an attorney in Palm Beach County involved in a dispute over a dock the president attempted to erect at Mar-a-Lago in recent months, told HuffPost in June.

According to that report, Trump tried to vote last fall as a Floridian while claiming 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as his residence. However, election officials in Palm Beach County rejected the attempted registration, because the White House was not located in the county.

Trump subsequently filed a new registration listing his residence at Mar-a-Lago, affirming with a signature that it was true. ("I live in Manhattan," Trump told governors in a conference call just the week before.)

However, Trump reached an agreement with the town of Palm Beach in 1993 allowing him to repurpose his Mar-a-Lago estate into a club in return for his promise to never live there, as The Washington Post reported in May.

Florida law bars residents from registering to vote from a place of business. The law further states that registered voters must be "Florida residents," and residents must provide either a state-issued driver's license or identification card, according to the state's online registration portal. (It is unclear whether the president posses either, and the White House did not reply to Salon's questions about the matter.)

The president has spent months claiming, without evidence, that mail-in ballots invite widespread fraud and election interference. He changed his tune last week, but only in the case of his newly declared home state, whose systems he claimed in a tweet were somehow uniquely "safe and secure."

"Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida's Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA," the president said.

Florida is represented by a governor and two U.S. senators from Trump's Republican Party.

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Corruption Donald Trump Elections Elections 2020 Florida Melania Trump Politics Republicans Usps Voting By Mail