It wasn’t until 45 minutes later that this voting mystery began to unravel. Shortly after I left the polling site, an official from the elections office called me and told me that a tweet I had posted a few weeks earlier had been brought to their attention. I had written that I had recently moved to Los Angeles, but was returning to Florida for early voting so I could vote for Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Being a journalist means signing up for life as a nomad. I’ve lived in three different cities this year alone. I’ve lived in six different cities over the course of my 21-year career in journalism. Part of the reason I bought a house in Orlando in 2006 was to establish a base of permanent residency—to have a place to call home, wherever I might temporarily reside. I have never rented my home to another person. I get my bank statements sent there. And I pay Florida property taxes.
My tweet in support of Gillum was retweeted nearly 6,300 times and received nearly 35,000 likes. I wasn’t trying to persuade people to vote for Gillum, but to encourage people to vote, period. I wanted people to know that voting in this year’s midterms was so important to me that I’d cross time zones just to make sure I participated in our democratic process.
I pressed the official who called me from the supervisor of elections’ office about how my tweet had landed on their radar. “Let’s just say it was a red brigade,” he said.
I’m guessing that had I tweeted support for Gillum’s challenger, Ron DeSantis, no one would have questioned my right to vote in Florida. Also in the back of my mind was the dust-up I’d had with the president last year. I’m not accusing Donald Trump of trying to suppress my vote, but I wouldn’t put it past his ardent supporters.
“The fact is, you’re a high-profile person who has political enemies,” said Richard Hasen, a chancellor’s professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, and a leading authority on election law. “The president has influenced passions about voter fraud, so people in the public eye will be watched very carefully. Everybody is looking for a ‘gotcha’ to see if a prominent person across the aisle is committing voter fraud.”
Read: Inside Trump’s voter-fraud crusade
Thanks to this whole ordeal, I now have something in common with Ann Coulter and the former White House adviser Steve Bannon (a sentence I never want to type again). The three of us have been accused of committing voter fraud—all in the state of Florida. Coulter also was accused of voter fraud in Connecticut.
Dan Borchers, a conservative blogger and longtime critic of Coulter, filed a voter-fraud complaint against Coulter’s voting in Connecticut in the 2002 and 2004 elections; she was also investigated for voter fraud in Florida in the 2006 election. She was cleared in both states. The Guardian reported that Bannon’s Florida voter registration was attached to an abandoned property. The Miami-Dade state’s attorney later determined that there was reasonable doubt as to whether Bannon had sworn falsely on his voter-registration application.