A former Trump administration official now running for Congress in New Hampshire voted twice during the 2016 primary election season, potentially violating federal voting law and leaving him at odds with the Republican Party’s intense focus on “election integrity.”
Matt Mowers, a leading Republican primary candidate looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, cast an absentee ballot in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary, voting records show. At the time, Mowers served as the director of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign in the pivotal early voting state.
Four months later, after Christie’s bid fizzled, Mowers cast another ballot in New Jersey’s Republican presidential primary, using his parents’ address to re-register in his home state, documents The Associated Press obtained through a public records request show.
Legal experts say Mowers’ actions could violate a federal law that prohibits “voting more than once” in “any general, special, or primary election.” That includes casting a ballot in separate jurisdictions “for an election to the same candidacy or office.” It also puts Mowers, who was a senior adviser in Donald Trump’s administration and later held a State Department post, in an awkward spot at a time when much of his party has embraced the former president’s lies about a stolen 2020 election and has pushed for restrictive new election laws.
The issue could have particular resonance in New Hampshire, where Republicans have long advocated for tighter voting rules to prevent short-term residents, namely college students, from participating in its first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
“What he has done is cast a vote in two different states for the election of a president, which on the face of it looks like he’s violated federal law,” said David Schultz, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who specializes in election law. ”You get one bite at the voting apple.”…
Not everyone agrees Mowers’ double-voting is a clear-cut case of voter fraud. For starters, it’s an undeveloped area of law. Any court would have to contend with complicated issues such as whether a primary could be viewed as a public election or as an event held by a private organization that is administered with government help.
“With the right set of facts, it could be construed as a violation, but it’s just not at all obvious to me that it is,” said Steven Huefner, an Ohio State University law school professor who specializes in election law. “It is a pretty murky question.”
Charlie Spies, a longtime Republican election lawyer who contacted the AP at the request of Mowers’ campaign, called the matter “silly.” He said the double-voting was “at worst a gray area” of the law and “not the sort of issue anybody would spend time on.”