ATLANTA - An answer during a 7th District Congressional debate about one candidate’s vote in the 2016 Presidential election caught the eye of the FOX 5 I-Team.
Republican candidate Rich McCormick’s answer leads to an I-Team examination of McCormick’s voting record and tax returns and has sparked a voting investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
During a recent Atlanta Press Club debate, one of the 7th District Congressional candidates asked Dr. Rich McCormick why he refused to vote for Donald Trump in 2016.
"'ll tell you what I was doing in 2016. I was away from my family for nine months, most of it in Kandahar, answered McCormick.
McCormick talked about his military service and emergency room work as a Doctor, but never directly said who he voted for or whether even voted in 2016.
Even when he was asked a second time.
Asked a third time, Dr. McCormick said he would answer the question on social media.
And three days later on a Facebook post McCormick wrote he voted for Donald Trump by "absentee ballot while stationed at Camp Lejeune shortly after returning from Afghanistan."
End of story? Just the beginning.
We checked and found no absentee ballot requested by Dr. McCormick in either Georgia or North Carolina. So, how did he vote? Turns out he requested an absentee ballot from Florida where he lived some 15 years ago.
"If you are active duty in the military you can declare another state your state of residency," says attorney Steve Shewmaker.
Shewmaker is a veteran and specializes in military law. He says McCormick's situation is common with the active-duty military. With service members traveling all the time, by law, they can pick a state they have some connection to as their state of residency - even if they don't live there.
That means they can legally vote and pay taxes in the state they chose. Shewmaker says Florida is a popular home state for service members for one main reason.
"There are service members who are declared residents in Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and some other states, and I'll tell you those states have no personal income tax. And I'll let you draw your own conclusions," says Shewmaker.
Voter records show McCormick was registered to vote in Florida from 2000 to 2019. But, he moved to Georgia around 2005.
We asked McCormick's campaign whether he filed his taxes in Florida - where there is no state income tax - while he was living in Georgia.
The campaign's answer was unclear. They said he "did pay taxes while living in Georgia." When I again asked whether he filed taxes in Florida while living in Georgia, they responded we were on "an inquest regarding Rich's tax obligations. We will not engage in that inquest."
We also found from 2005 to late 2019 McCormick was registered to vote in Georgia and Florida at the same time. He cast votes in both states during different elections. Why was he still on Florida's voting roll when he was living and voting in Georgia?
McCormick's campaign blames the Georgia Secretary of State's office. They say Georgia law states it was the Secretary of State's responsibility to contact Florida to have McCormick taken off the voting list.
But, the Secretary of State's office said not so fast. They sent us the National Voter Registration Act which says it's up to the voter to have their name removed from a state's voting roll.
A Secretary of State spokesperson told me after we discussed this case that their office investigates every claim and will now ok into McCormick's voting record.