“What we do know is a number of times as we have mail-in ballots, if there is not a chain of custody that goes from the voter to the ballot box, mischief can happen.”
This article, along with its headline, incorrectly reported that Debra Meadows filed three voter forms with false information. After publication, the state elections board revealed that a redacted signature on an absentee-ballot request form said “Mark Meadows,” not Debra Meadows. The article has been updated and the headline corrected.
Three months after this interview, on Oct. 26, Mark Meadows’s wife, Debra, appeared at the Macon County community building in Franklin, N.C., and filled out a one-stop voter application to cast an early ballot in the 2020 presidential election. She also dropped off an absentee ballot that she had requested for her husband, then the White House chief of staff, an election board official said.
On her one-stop application, provided this week by the North Carolina Board of Elections to The Fact Checker, Debra Meadows certified that she had resided at a 14-by-62-foot mountaintop mobile home for at least 30 days — even though she did not live there. At the top of the form is a notice that “fraudulently or falsely completing this form” is a Class I felony.
This form is the latest in a string of revelations concerning the former chief of staff — who echoed President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in 2020 — and his wife. The New Yorker first reported that Mark and Debra Meadows submitted voter registration forms that listed as their home a mobile home with a rusted metal roof that sold for $105,000 in 2021, even though they had never lived there. North Carolina officials announced last week that Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud.
The Fact Checker’s reporting shows that in 2020 Debra Meadows signed at least two forms — a voter registration form and the one-stop application — that warned of legal consequences if falsely completed and signed.
Debra Meadows also is listed as submitting an absentee ballot request for her husband. The signature on the form is redacted but Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said Wednesday that the signature says “Mark Meadows," even though the section of form saying it was a request from Debra Meadows was also filled out. He said it was unclear why that was done.
The statement by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation made no mention of Debra Meadows, and officials declined to say whether the probe would also examine her actions.
“We are early into the investigation,” said Anjanette Grube, the SBI’s public information director. “As the investigation continues, information will be shared with the prosecutor who will make a determination as to whether any additional persons could be subject to the investigation.”
Ben Williamson, a spokesman for Mark Meadows, declined to comment. Debra Meadows did not respond to emails sent to her email address at Right Women PAC, where she is executive director, or to several personal email addresses. She also did not respond to a text message.
The voter registration form asks for a residential address — “where you physically live” — and is signed “under penalty of perjury.” According to the New Yorker’s reporting, Meadows and his wife have never lived there — and Meadows himself may have never set foot in the house, which is located four miles north of the border with Georgia.
To register to vote in North Carolina, a citizen must have lived in the county where they are registering and have resided there for at least 30 days before the date of the election, according to the state’s board of elections. Both Mark and Debra Meadows listed a post office box in a town about 70 miles away from the mobile home, near Asheville, as the mailing address. Both voter registration forms, filed Sept. 19, 2020, list the move-in date as the next day: Sept. 20.
Six months earlier, in March 2020, Meadows sold, for $370,000, a house in Sapphire, N.C., meaning the couple no longer had a place of residence in the state. Instead, they lived at the time in a condominium in Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. Debra Meadows used the old Sapphire registration to cast a ballot in a June primary runoff election for someone for whom she had done fundraising.
Under North Carolina law, a person ordinarily loses the right to vote in a county if they had moved out of it more than 30 days before the election. But Gerry Cohen, a North Carolina elections official, said that under a law in place until this year, anyone eligible to vote in the first primary could vote in the runoff primary without an updated registration. Under the new law, a person can no longer vote in a runoff months after he or she moves.
Under North Carolina law, a “near relative,” such as a spouse, may both request an absentee ballot for a voter and also then return that ballot. Mark Meadows’s absentee ballot request shows that Debra Meadows submitted it on his behalf Oct 1. The mobile home is listed as his North Carolina residential address, with the form saying he had moved there on Sept 20. The ballot was requested to be sent to the Alexandria condo.
This form also notes that “fraudulently or falsely completing this form” is a Class I felony.
Then Debra Meadows traveled to Macon County to cast her ballot, bringing along Mark Meadows’s absentee ballot. The state’s electronic records suggested this was the case, and a North Carolina State Board of Elections spokesperson said the Macon County election office confirmed that Mark Meadows’s absentee-by-mail ballot was returned in person by his wife at a one-stop early voting site Oct. 26.
On the early-voting application, Debra Meadows signed a document in which she certified she was eligible to vote. The document has pre-checked eligibility statements, with the first a declaration that the voter has lived at least 30 days in the county. Before signing the document, she should have been “directed to review these qualification and eligibility statements on the ATV [authorization to vote] form or One-stop application” by a poll worker, according to the state election manual.
There is precedent in North Carolina for seeking a severe penalty for someone who put false information on an early voting application.
Latisha Bratcher Jones, a North Carolina resident, in 2016 also filled out a one-stop application, believing she was able to vote even though she had served time in prison for felony assault and was out on probation. A section of the same form asked whether someone who had committed a felony had completed their probation. A grand jury in 2020 indicted her for making a false affidavit regarding the fact she was on probation — and also for saying she resided in a different county than the one in which she voted.
North Carolina officials later acknowledged that the state did not have a standardized process for informing people on probation they couldn’t vote. Indeed, documents obtained by the Guardian in 2019 showed that state officials concluded Jones may have illegally voted unintentionally.
But a prosecutor still brought felony charges that could have resulted in 19 months in prison. Her attorney argued that the probation prohibition stemmed from a 19th-century law designed to disenfranchise Black voters.
Jones said in an interview that she eventually settled the case by entering an Alford plea for a misdemeanor crime — related to the charge that she resided in a different county than one from which she voted.
“I did not know what I was doing,” she said. “All I did was try to vote.”
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