Documents indicate that Jeffrey Gerrish, the president’s pick to be a deputy United States Trade Representative, moved from Virginia to Maryland last year, but opted in November to vote in the more competitive state of Virginia than his bright blue new home.
(WaPo with similar story.)
It is a misdemeanor in Virginia to vote if you are not a resident of the state. The commonwealth does carve out grace period for residents who move out of the state within 30 days of a presidential election, allowing them to vote in their old precinct only in the contest for president.
Mr. Gerrish’s move does not appear to have fallen in that grace period. Records show that he sold a Fairfax, Va., home in July 2016 and purchased a home in Montgomery County, Md., just across the state line, the same month. Mr. Gerrish did not register to vote in Maryland until February of this year, according to state records.
A Trump administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the case in detail, said that Mr. Gerrish had a Virginia driver’s license at the time of the election and was under the impression that the state granted a longer grace period for former residents. He had lived there for more than a decade before moving, the official said.
As with many cases where people break election rules, it is often inadvertence, not malfeasance, which explains what happened. That could well be true here.
Doesn’t mean officials shouldn’t look for it. But we should be cautious about throwing the book at people who commit honest mistakes.