A global activist group that opposes Donald Trump has filed a complaint with Florida elections officials claiming that his campaign CEO submitted false voter registration information.
The complaint says Stephen Bannon does not actually live at the Sarasota County address where he registered to vote in August.
“Under Florida law, to qualify as a registered voter, one must be a resident of the state,” states the one-page complaint filed Oct. 19 by Heather Reddick, chief operating officer of Avaaz. “These allegations are a serious matter of public interest given Mr. Bannon's role as the chief executive officer of the Republican candidate's presidential campaign and warrants immediate investigation.”
Avaaz is an international online campaign organization that opposes Trump’s candidacy. The group has launched a campaign urging Americans living overseas, including in Mexico and Canada, to vote in the election.
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Trump’s campaign did not respond to questions about Bannon’s voter registration. A spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Elections said that the office is reviewing the complaint.
Bannon was previously registered to vote in Miami from 2014 until August. Bannon never voted in Miami.
In August, he switched his voter registration to a Sarasota County property owned by Andrew and Melissa Badolato. Andrew is a writer of Breitbart News, the conservative network Bannon ran until August. (The Guardian first broke the story about Bannon’s registration in Sarasota.)
Bannon’s new registration took effect Aug. 25. He has not requested an absentee ballot, Michelle Tuffland, deputy registrar for the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, told the Herald. On Wednesday, a New York elections official confirmed to the Herald that in mid-October Bannon registered to vote in New York .
The Avaaz complaint attached an August article Los Angeles Times stating that Bannon was a Laguna Beach resident and cited a 2015 news article that stated he lived in Washington D.C.
“Mr. Bannon appears to have knowingly and willfully submitted false voter registration information when he changed his address of residence with the Sarasota County Election department on August 25, 2016,” states the complaint.
Florida law says it is a third-degree felony to submit false voter registration information.
But an allegation about a registered voter — if he doesn’t vote — may not receive much attention from election officials.
Kendall Coffey, a Democrat and former U.S. Attorney for South Florida, told the Herald that proving residency doesn’t require a stack of documents, but there does have to be some actual physical move.
“Because the courts say that intent is subjective, and the best proof is where he or she says the residence is, these cases can be difficult to prove,” he said. “If the voter doesn’t actually vote then the interest of authorites would decline substantially.”
J.C. Planas, an election lawyer and former Republican state representative, said he assumes that the people who live where Bannon is allegedly staying will say he moved in with them.
“As long as he does not try to vote in another state, there would be no reason for a court or any agency to doubt the veracity of Bannon's friends,” he said.
NBC News reported in August that the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections office confirmed that the state attorney’s office sought Bannon’s voter registration records. Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office, would not confirm for the Herald whether there is an investigation as of Nov. 1.