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Yesterday, while at my mother’s nursing home in Florida, one of the managers called me into her office. She told me she did not have my mother’s absentee ballot, but the Board of Elections was sending the ballot, and it would arrive in time for voting next week.
While telling me this, the manager is holding a stack of absentee ballots for all the other residents. Pointing to a smaller stack she said, “These are the ballots for the ones who have died.” My immediate response was, “They should be voting too.” She answered, “Well, they really could vote if we wanted them too.”
We both laughed.
Now, because I know and trust the management, I can state with 1000 percent certainty that there will be no deceased residents voting at my mother’s nursing home. However, this incident left me wondering just how many deceased Florida residents would be voting at other nursing homes.
With months between the time a manager requests absentee ballots and when the ballots actually arrive, there naturally occurs what one nursing home manager once called a “census reduction.”
At my mother’s relatively small nursing home, from the stack of ballots I saw, it looked as if 12 census reductions had occurred.
If you multiply the number of census reductions across the nation, especially in battleground states, it is conceivable that in a very close election, politically active nursing home managers could sway this election with ballots sitting on their desks cast by former residents from that great voting booth in the sky.
Now here is the second part of this story.
Recently, I also received in the mail an absentee ballot for my mother because I had requested one earlier. She will not use that ballot. She will be voting for the Republican presidential candidate, for the first time in her 86 years, at the nursing home with that second absentee ballot. (My mother is from the “FDR saved the world” generation and voted for Obama in 2008.)
When I told the manager about the ballot I had received she joked, “Well now your mother can vote twice.”
We both laughed again.
But what really hit me is just how easy it is to vote the “Chicago Way.”