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Mark Meadows was registered to vote in three states. And?

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

If this is what’s passing as the latest political scandal, it’s probably going to be a slow news weekend. A few different outlets, including the Associated Press, have picked up a story reporting that former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was, until recently, registered to vote in three states. He was registered in both North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia. A few weeks ago, North Carolina removed him from the rolls following a public report that Meadows and his wife had moved to South Carolina. The registration in North Carolina may prove to be problematic (which we’ll address shortly), but there doesn’t appear to be any indication that Meadows wound up voting in the same election more than once. This situation does, however, highlight one of the many problems plaguing the voter registration process.

Mark Meadows — a former chief of staff to President Donald Trump who was removed from North Carolina voter rolls earlier this month — is still a registered voter in two other states, according to officials and a published report.

Chris Whitmire, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Elections Commission, told The Associated Press the former Republican congressman and his wife registered as voters in the state in March 2022.

“That’s when he became active,” Whitmire said, noting that neither Meadows had yet cast a vote in the state. “From our perspective, it just looks like any new South Carolina voter.”

Someone moving from Virginia to South Carolina and registering to vote in their new home state is nothing unusual. The registration in North Carolina could be a problem if, as recent reporting suggests, neither Meadows nor his wife ever lived in or owned the trailer that he listed as his residence when he registered. He did cast an absentee ballot in the 2020 presidential election in North Carolina.

Last year Meadows apparently relocated to Virginia and registered to vote there ahead of the state elections in November. Then, this year, he moved to South Carolina where he purchased a new home on Lake Keowee, whereupon he submitted his new voter registration. One South Carolina elections spokesman is quoted as saying that Meadows “should have notified any other jurisdictions of his new status.” But when people file a change of address upon moving, that’s generally the only requirement in terms of notifying the state that they are moving. Individual voters are not able to remove themselves from the voter rolls. That’s the job of the state election commission.

And that brings up the real issue in this tale and it’s one I’ve been banging the drum about for a long time. With only a few exceptions such as Washington state, most of the states do a terrible job of keeping their voter rolls up to date and removing people who have either relocated or died from the lists. This opens the door to plenty of voter fraud, such as we saw in New York’s 21st congressional district in 2020, when mountains of mail-in ballots (including at least three from dead people) caused mayhem in the counting process. This happens a lot. I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that I’m still registered to vote in the state I moved to New York from, even though I haven’t lived or voted there in more than a quarter of a century.

It is not a crime to be registered to vote in more than one state simultaneously. It is definitely illegal to vote more than once in the same election from two different states, but nobody has even suggested thus far that Meadows cast more than one ballot in either election. If the allegations about the trailer in North Carolina are accurate, he could be open to some sort of charge for filing false documents, but that’s still not the same thing as voter fraud. This sounds more than anything else like a media opportunity to generate some negative headlines for some associated with Donald Trump.