The deadline to request mail-in ballots was Aug. 9, but Houlihan said the Trumps signed an affidavit allowing someone else to pick up and deliver the ballots in person for them, which is permitted after the deadline has passed.
“The president and first lady just had their designee come in and pick up their ballot at the desk,” Houlihan said. “Many of our voters do the same thing if they miss the deadline for the mail ballot to be sent to them. Or in some cases, we have so many snowbirds and they’re not sure which residence they’ll be at, so it’s just easier for them to come in and request their vote by mail ballot at the desk.”
The president changed his official domicile from New York to Palm Beach in October. He and his wife voted absentee in Florida’s March presidential primary, signing an affidavit that allowed Alejandro Garcia, a Florida Republican Party member, to pick up and deliver their ballots.
Trump has railed against voting by mail, claiming without evidence that it leads to widespread fraud, and has sought to make a distinction between his use of absentee ballots and mail ballots.
In fact, the two terms are used interchangeably, and Florida officially refers to the practice as “vote-by-mail.” It is one of 34 states where voters do not need an excuse to request an absentee ballot and can vote through the mail even if they are physically able to go in person on Election Day.
Houlihan said many voters confined to nursing homes made use of the ballot pickup method that the Trumps used after the coronavirus pandemic hit the state in March, allowing them to designate family members to get their ballots.
As of Tuesday afternoon, around 80 percent of Palm Beach voters who cast a ballot in the primary had done so via mail-in ballots, she said.
“We believe Palm Beach County voters have done a pretty good job getting their requests in a pretty timely way,” Houlihan said. “So many of them came in early.”
Six Republicans are running in Tuesday’s Congressional primary in the heavily Democratic district. One of them will face Lois Frankel, a Democrat who ran unopposed two years ago, or her primary opponent, Guido Weiss, a former legislative assistant for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).