Votes From the Dead to Count in Election
RALEIGH, N.C. - In what would be her last conscious act, 90-year-old Trixie Porter gripped a pen in her weak, trembling hand, checked the candidates of her choice and scrawled a squiggled signature on her absentee ballot
Within an hour, the petite woman who had been suffering from heart problems lay back in her hospital bed, closed her eyes and never woke up. Her ballot arrived at her local elections board two days later, Oct. 5 — the day she died.
"We commented that day that it probably won't count," said daughter Cheryl McConnell. "But she went to her grave not knowing any different. It counted with her."
An untold number of ballots like Porter's will indeed be counted because of the haphazard and cumbersome process of enforcing laws in many states to weed out the absentee votes of those who die by Election Day.
With millions of voters taking advantage of new, in-person early voting in at least 30 states this year, it's even more certain that such "ghost" votes will be counted because, in most cases, those ballots are impossible to retrieve. Besides, it could be days or weeks after the election before local officials get word someone has died.
Death has no political allegiance. But the thousands of lawyers from both parties who will be descending on battleground states Tuesday looking for reasons to pick up a few votes could find the phenomenon of dead voters more than just an Election Day curiosity.
In Florida alone, more than 1.8 million people, many of them elderly and sick retirees, have cast absentee ballots or voted early in person in the past two weeks.
How many of those voters won't be alive on Election Day? Considering that an average of 455 voting-age people die in Florida every day, and that the 2000 presidential election was decided by a mere 537 votes, dead votes that slip through the cracks could become a meaningful bloc...