In retrospect, Donald Trump’s decision to try to soothe his ego over losing the 2020 presidential election by claiming massive election fraud might not have been such a good idea…particularly when the vast majority of the small number of actual incidents of voter fraud seems to have been committed by members of the Republican Party. Now GOP voter-fraud accusations are creeping ever closer to the disgraced former president himself as questions about the legal residential address of Donald Trump’s last Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, have suddenly surfaced.
An investigative report by Charles Bethea in The New Yorker magazine reveals that as Meadows left his seat in Congress representing North Carolina’s Eleventh District in March of 2020, he sold his twenty-two-hundred-square-foot house in Sapphire, NC, and continued living in a Virginia condo close to his new Washington DC workplace at the White House.
As the COVID pandemic surged during the summer of 2020, Meadows failed to purchase another home in the state of North Carolina. Then, just a few weeks ahead of his home state’s voter-registration deadline for the general election, Meadows filed a new voter registration in North Carolina, listing as his home address a 14′ x 64′ mobile home in Scaly Mountain, NC, and listing a move-in date as the following day, September 20th, 2020.
One might wonder why someone at the highest echelons of the United States government might want to move into a single-wide dwelling in a small town far away from any major cities just north of the Georgia border.
According to Bethea in The New Yorker, those questions may be quite valid.
“Meadows does not own this property and never has,” Bethea writes. “It is not clear that he has ever spent a single night there. (He did not respond to a request for comment.) The previous owner, who asked that we not use her name, now lives in Florida. “That was just a summer home,” she told me, when I called her up the other day. She seemed surprised to learn that the residence was listed on the Meadowses’ forms.”
Bethea goes on to relate the details of an in-person interview with a neighbor of the property who verified that Mark Meadows’ wife Debbie and their two adult children had visited and stayed at the mobile home “a few years ago.”
The neighbor did not mention Mark Meadows himself as having been present at the time, but it’s certainly clear that the property is not his primary place of residence.
Given that North Carolina election law only allows people to register to vote at the location where they “physically live,” Bethea poses a salient question.
“Did Meadows potentially commit voter fraud by listing the Scaly Mountain address on his registration form?” he asks. “It’s a federal crime to provide false information to register to vote in a federal election. Under President Trump, the White House Web site posted a document, produced by the conservative Heritage Foundation, intended to present a “sampling” of the “long and unfortunate history of election fraud” in the U.S. Many of the cases sampled involve people who registered to vote at false addresses, including, for instance, second homes that did not serve as a person’s primary residence.”
Melanie D. Thibault, the director of Macon County’s Board of Elections, was perplexed when she was shown the Meadows’ voter registration forms.
“I’m kind of dumbfounded, to be honest with you,” Thibault said. “I looked up this Mcconnell Road, which is in Scaly Mountain, and I found out that it was a dive trailer in the middle of nowhere, which I do not see him or his wife staying in.”
Thibault explained that typically once a registration arrives, a verification postcard is sent to the mailing address on the form, in this case, a post office box,
“If that card makes it to the voter and it’s not sent back undeliverable, then the voter goes onto the system as a good voter,” she said, before adding that Meadows had voted absentee, by mail, in the 2020 general election.
“‘The state board tells us we’re not the police,’ she went on. ‘It’s up to the voter to give us the information.” A candidate or voter can challenge another voter’s address, she explained, but the burden of proof, at least at the outset, rests with the challenger. In this case, then, Meadows wouldn’t need, initially, to prove that he had listed a true place of residence—the challenger would need to prove that Meadows hadn’t. These challenges can be tough to win and are not frequently brought,” Bethea writes.
Still, given that the journalist’s investigation revealed that the Meadows have never even received mail at that Scaly Mountain address, it would be difficult for Meadows to argue that the property is his legal abode.
One can understand Meadows’ motivation to keep a North Carolina address for voting purposes, especially given that he was once rumored to be considering a run for the state’s Senate seat being vacated by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) this year.
However, filing a voter registration form from an address that one doesn’t legitimately live at is the perfect example of the type of election fraud that Donald Trump believes is rampant.
Perhaps — among Republican politicians at least — he’s right for once.
With Meadows already held in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the January 6 Select Committee, this latest revelation about his voter registration issues may be the least of his problems right now
Original reporting by Charles Bethea at The New Yorker.
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