Elections

Trump campaign chief was once registered to vote in Miami — but never did

The rental home where Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s campaign chief, was registered to vote until Thursday.
The rental home where Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s campaign chief, was registered to vote until Thursday. Miami Herald

The national media descended Friday upon an abandoned, trash-filled home in Coconut Grove.

The reporters weren’t there because the house on the peacock-lined street was the scene of a notorious crime. Or because there was an inkling that LeBron James had returned to the neighborhood he once called home.

The house was the address where Donald Trump’s new campaign chief, Stephen Bannon, was registered to vote from 2014 until this week.

He doesn’t live there, at least not now. The discovery of his voter registration, made Friday by the Guardian US news website, prompted a frenzy of questions about whether Bannon had run afoul of voter rules.

But county elections records show Bannon never voted in Miami. And he switched his voter registration Thursday to a Sarasota County property owned by a writer of Breitbart News, the conservative network Bannon ran until last week.

“He registered yesterday, and today we sent him a voter registration card,” Sarasota County elections supervisor Kathy Dent said Friday.

Sarasota records show Bannon sent his registration change by mail Aug. 19, and the paperwork was formally processed on Thursday.

It is unclear whether Bannon ever lived in the rental Miami home, where a white curtain flapped in the breeze in the place of a large window Friday morning. The front of the house was littered with trash. A small mural in front read, “I trust in Jesus Christ.” A call to the landlord for comment was not returned.

Neighbors who spoke with the Miami Herald on Friday said they had not seen activity at the house in recent months and could not recall Bannon ever being seen at the property.

However, local conservative pundit A.J. Delgado, a Trump supporter and occasional Herald op-ed contributor, said on Twitter that Bannon had lived in the Grove house and she had visited him there.

“I have known Steve for several years and he was most definitely, without a doubt, living in the house in question,” Delgado told the Herald. “I personally visited Steve there on various occasions throughout a long period of time beginning in 2013. All his belongings, including boxes of documents even, were there and his vehicles.”

The Guardian reported Friday that Bannon did not live in the house, and questioned whether Bannon could be violating Florida’s election law. To do that, however, he would have had to vote while living somewhere else — which he didn’t.

“I have no idea why the Guardian article claims a neighbor says they never saw Steve, but the house has high bushes and sort of a high fence so I could see how they might not,” Delgado said. “Homes in the Grove often have a very private layout.”

Dent, the Sarasota elections supervisor, said Florida voters who move from one county to another, like Bannon, could not vote twice in two counties because local elections departments certify voters who register elsewhere in the state.

“When someone changes from within the state it goes through the Florida registration system,” Dent said. “They would suspend the voter from Miami-Dade to Sarasota, he would automatically be ineligible” to vote twice.

That doesn’t mean that a voter registered in Florida would be prevented from voting again in another state. Dent said elections departments from different states do their best to communicate with one another, but “it’s not foolproof because all the 7,200 jurisdictions don’t do it the same.”

Bannon, who public records show once lived in New York and Los Angeles, did not have active voter registrations in either Los Angeles County or Manhattan while registered in Florida, records show.

Breitbart, Bannon’s former website, continuously warns of voter fraud as a tactic used by liberal activists to influence election results.

Politico also reported earlier this week that Bannon was once charged with misdemeanor domestic violence in 1996.

A Trump spokeswoman did not return an email requesting comment.

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