Walker’s wife voted in Georgia as couple lives in Texas, records show

Caption
University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker, right, shown greeting President Donald Trump at an event at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta in September, is flirting with a run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate, and he's made an issue out of voter fraud. Walker's wife, Julie Blanchard, cast a vote in Georgia's presidential election last fall even though the couple lives in Texas and claims a homestead exemption there. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Potential Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker and his wife live in Texas, but she voted in Georgia’s election for president last fall.

The absentee ballot cast by Julie Blanchard raises questions about whether she was allowed to vote in Georgia while living in Texas. It’s illegal for nonresidents to vote in Georgia in most circumstances.

The questionable vote could undercut one of Walker’s main talking points if he enters the race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is up for a full term in November 2022.

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Walker has called for prosecutions of voter fraud, even though there’s no evidence of rampant abuse. And he’s promoted other false claims of voting irregularities by former President Donald Trump, who has encouraged him to enter the race.

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“Play by the rules.....the American people demand ONLY LEGAL BALLOTS be counted. Anyone manipulating this election should be prosecuted,” Walker wrote on Twitter in November.

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Election records show that Blanchard used her Atlanta address to return an absentee ballot, which she mailed in October from the couple’s residence in Westlake, Texas. Blanchard also owns a home near Buckhead.

“If we’re residents in both places, is that legally wrong?” Blanchard said when reached by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. “If you have multiple homes, you can’t vote where you have a home?”

Blanchard followed up Tuesday, saying she considers herself a resident of Georgia, where she has a driver’s license, owns a car and does business. She didn’t answer a question about whether she spends more time at her Georgia or Texas property.

Before last year’s election, Blanchard hadn’t voted in Georgia since 2008. Her Georgia voter registration was canceled in 2017 because of inactivity, and she re-registered in 2019. It’s unclear whether she was automatically registered when she renewed her Georgia’s driver’s license. She’s not registered to vote in Texas.

State law determines residency based on where a voter’s “habitation is fixed,” and those who move to another state with the intention of making it their residence lose their eligibility to vote in Georgia.

Blanchard and Walker purchased their Texas property in 2011 and receive a homestead exemption on their property taxes, according to public records. Homestead exemptions are granted to homeowners for their legal residence. Blanchard didn’t claim a homestead exemption on her Fulton County property last year.

The Georgia secretary of state’s office didn’t immediately comment Monday on whether Blanchard was under investigation.

Blanchard and Walker married in Texas in May, according to public records. Walker was previously married to Cindy Grossman before their divorce in 2002.

Walker, who has lived in Texas for decades, has hinted for months that he might move to Georgia to run for the U.S. Senate, and Trump has said the former University of Georgia football star would be “unstoppable.”

But there are increasing signs the state’s Republican establishment is growing tired of waiting on Walker to decide on a run — and unconvinced he would be a strong candidate even with Trump’s support.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black is the best known of the three Republicans already in the contest. The other two are military veterans Kelvin King and Latham Saddler. Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter are also considering joining the race against Warnock, who has unified Democratic support and a campaign war chest of more than $10.5 million.

Black, who has won endorsements from former Gov. Nathan Deal and dozens of sheriffs, recently became the first GOP candidate to publicly criticize Walker. He called on the Texan to move to Georgia, “register and vote in some elections and learn what Georgians have on their minds” before entering the race.

Aside from a few appearances on Fox News, Walker hasn’t acted like a candidate. He’s skipped grassroots Republican events, including a recent key gathering in Rome, as a growing number of Republicans raise concerns about pinning their hopes on an untested candidate with a violent, erratic past.

Walker, though, has said he’s in no rush to make up his mind. And a recent survey by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling showed he’s neck-and-neck with Warnock in a hypothetical matchup, thanks to Walker’s soaring name recognition.

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.