On May 20, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to accuse Michigan’s “rogue Secretary of State” of going down a “Voter Fraud path” by mailing absentee ballots to 7.7 million people.
In addition to being factually inaccurate (Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent out applications, not ballots), this tweet prompted some social media users to note that while Trump continues to spread the idea that voting by mail leads to more voter fraud (a claim that is not supported by evidence), Trump himself has voted via absentee ballots in previous elections:
David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida, was correct when he tweeted Trump has voted by mail. Trump has used the absentee voting system in at least three elections: Trump voted by mail during New York’s mayoral election in 2017, cast an absentee ballot during the state’s midterm election the following year, and again used a vote-by-mail ballot in Florida’s primary election in 2020.
In 2017, Trump, first lady Melania Trump and their daughter, Ivanka Trump, all cast absentee votes during New York’s mayoral race. These votes made headlines at the time because it was reported that Melania and Ivanka filled out their ballots incorrectly (and therefore were invalid) while the president listed the wrong birth date:
Citing officials at the New York City Board of Elections (BOE), the report said Melania Trump failed to sign the envelope containing her ballot as required, Ivanka Trump mailed in her ballot too late to be counted (per the instructions on the ballot application, it must be mailed no later than the seventh day before the election), and Jared Kushner never mailed his at all. Each of these errors is sufficient to render a ballot invalid, a Board of Elections official told the Daily News.
BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez confirmed to NBC News on December 12 that Melania and Ivanka Trump’s ballots were “invalid and not counted.”
President Trump, who also voted by absentee ballot, properly signed the envelope and mailed it on time, but listed the wrong birthdate (July 14, 1946 instead of June 14), the Daily News said. It remains unclear whether this prevented Trump’s vote from being counted.
In 2018, Trump again voted by mail during New York’s midterm election. The Hill reported in November at the time:
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have cast their ballots in the 2018 midterm elections.
A White House spokesperson said Friday that both Trumps voted by absentee ballot in New York “a few weeks ago.” That means they will not have to travel to the state, where they are registered to vote, to cast a ballot in person.
In 2020, after changing his primary residence to Florida, Trump cast an absentee ballot in that state’s presidential primary election. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that a representative for the president picked up absentee ballots from the Palm Beach County Elections Office and then returned them the day before the primary:
As coronavirus cases started increasing and concern mounted in the days before Florida’s presidential primary, the state’s voters increasingly turned to voting by mail. President Donald Trump did the same thing, taking a moment to vote — undoubtedly for himself.
So did First Lady Melania Trump, who presumably also voted for her husband.
Eight days before the March 17 primary, a Trump representative picked up vote-by-mail ballots at the Palm Beach County Elections Office, said Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link. The same person returned the ballots to the elections office the day before the primary.
In all, Trump has voted by mail or submitted an absentee ballot in at least three elections. We reached out to the New York State Board of Elections for more information about Trump’s vote-by-mail record and will update this article if more information becomes available.
During a press conference in April, Trump was asked how he could reconcile the fact that he has voted by mail in previous elections considering his position that voting by mail was corrupt:
President Trump: "I think mail-in voting is horrible, it's corrupt."
Reporter: "You voted by mail in Florida's election last month, didn't you?"
Trump: "Sure. I can vote by mail"
Reporter: "How do you reconcile with that?"
Trump: "Because I'm allowed to." pic.twitter.com/Es8ZNyB3O1
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 7, 2020