*Image courtesy of taoty/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Introduction: I will be writing a series about a missing absentee ballot from a nursing home where a relative of mine resides. My purpose in writing this is to alert nursing home residents and their families of the very real possibility of ballot mischief at places where the most vulnerable of our population , the elderly and the disabled can easily be taken advantage of.
Even though I have carefully documented everything that took place, I will refrain from releasing any names. My relative still resides at this nursing home and does not desire to bring attention to herself or to be in the middle of a conflict. From here on out I will refer to her as Mrs. D and proceed to tell the story as it unfolded before my eyes. I welcome any comments and feedback from my readers.
Mrs D resides in a nursing home. For several years I have requested absentee ballots for her in order to enable her to be able to vote. On a recent visit, I had explained to her I would request a ballot for her again so she could vote in the upcoming election.
On Saturday, September 29th, I was looking over her voting information on the County Board of Elections website and was shocked to see an absentee ballot had already been requested for her on August 22, 2012 and mailed to her on September 14th, 2012.
I called Mrs D to see what had happened. I asked her if she had signed and requested a ballot and she stated several times she did not remember signing anything. She said that one of the staff had brought her a ballot and informed her to only let a close relative assist her in filling it out, not nursing home staff. She said it was still in her drawer by her bed. She asked me if I could come over and help her fill it out. I told her I would.
On September 30th, I went by to visit Mrs D. I looked in her drawer and found the envelope that was mailed to her, but it was already opened. I was shocked and upset when I looked in and the only thing in the envelope was the instructions and a new voting card with an address change on it. I asked Mrs D several questions. I asked her if she remembered seeing a ballot and she said no. I asked if she remembered filling it out or signing anything, and she said no. Her responses were very consistent. She was upset about the ballot missing and wanted to know what happened to it. I told her I would try to find out.
The frustration built in me because it has always been my understanding from the county’s website that only near relatives or legal guardians were allowed to request absentee ballots and help fill them out. I found it hard to believe that Mrs D would have requested an absentee ballot since she has told me for years that she is unable to fill out a form or ballot because of the weakness in her hands and almost constant trembling.
Mrs D has extreme physical limitations and is confined mostly to a wheelchair. I just could not escape the troubling question of what happened to this ballot. I thought it was highly unlikely she could have filled it out and put in an envelope without some kind of assistance. She has received assistance in dressing and grooming for a long time. During visits,we usually assist her in opening any cards, letters, etc.
So where is the ballot? Has it been submitted, or is it lost or stolen? These are the thoughts racing through my head. I made Mrs D a promise to find out what happened to her ballot. Now I needed to sit down and figure out where to start.
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