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Thread: Can the dead vote? Non-political

  1. #1

    Can the dead vote? Non-political

    Since retirement there have instances where my sometimes unoccupied mind conjures up weird scenarios One came up today. Our Town Moderator in conjunction with the Board of Selectmen and the Town Clerk have postponed tomorrow's town elections because we are expected to get 8-12" of heavy wet snow tomorrow and parking is limited at the town hall. Absentee ballots are available for the asking and of course would be opened after the polls close on the new date of March 28th.

    Here is the question: If someone votes absentee and dies before the actual election (March 28th) is it a legitimate vote and can it be counted? Is it therefore possible that the dead can have legitimately voted?

    Like I said, an unoccupied mind is a dangerous thing.
    Dave Anderson

    Chester, NH

  2. #2
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    Interesting question. Wisconsin Statues

    6.21  Deceased electors.When by due proof it appears to the inspectors or, in municipalities where absentee ballots are canvassed under s. 7.52, when by due proof it appears to the board of absentee ballot canvassers that a person casting an absentee ballot at an election has died before the date of the election, the inspectors or board of absentee ballot canvassers shall return the ballot with defective ballots to the issuing official. The casting of the ballot of a deceased elector does not invalidate the election.

    So as I read it, in Wisconsin the ballot would not count.

  3. #3
    Interesting Dave.

    Now to complicate if further. If the voter filed the absentee ballot for tomorrow's election which is then postponed and they die after the date of the original scheduled date of the rescheduled election is it valid then?
    Dave Anderson

    Chester, NH

  4. #4
    I would think that anyone voting by the original scheduled date of the election would have their vote counted.

  5. #5
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    Must be a Really small election for it to matter

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Wrenn View Post
    I would think that anyone voting by the original scheduled date of the election would have their vote counted.
    So you think logic would prevail?

  7. #7
    Actually Tom it is small, town only. The town is 5200 but typically at town elections only 400-600 actually bother to vote. In this case there are 2 seats on the 5 person Board of Selectmen up for grabs. Both incumbents are running for re-election and for the first time ever we have 7 other candidates. Yes, 9 running for 2 seats makes every vote count because of the low turnout. I fully expect there to be some calls for a recount.

    In any event, my case was just hypothetical musing.
    Dave Anderson

    Chester, NH

  8. #8
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    It would likely depend on state or local laws.

    There have been elections in some states where a person has mailed in a ballot then died. Since it was legally submitted before election day their vote counted. This is because there wasn't any law in place to disqualify it from being counted.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    So you think logic would prevail?
    Hah. Good one.

  10. #10
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    My logic would be that the vote should not count. If the election is November 4 and I vote by absentee the middle of October I am merely filling out the ballot ahead of time to be counted on November 4. If my wife is planning on waiting until November 4 to vote in person but we both die on October 31 then my vote should not count same as hers. Of course exceedingly minor situation.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Dozier View Post
    My logic would be that the vote should not count. If the election is November 4 and I vote by absentee the middle of October I am merely filling out the ballot ahead of time to be counted on November 4. If my wife is planning on waiting until November 4 to vote in person but we both die on October 31 then my vote should not count same as hers. Of course exceedingly minor situation.
    Your logic may or may not be sound but is it practical? What would trigger your vote being rejected and how long would it take?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    Your logic may or may not be sound but is it practical? What would trigger your vote being rejected and how long would it take?
    In Arizona, the County Recorder cancels the voter registration with the death certificate being noted. As has been said though, this is a state issue.

    https://apnews.com/article/2022-midt...98184498f07958
    ~mike

    happy in my mud hut

  13. #13
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    For a valid legal opinion on this it might be advisable to look at what has already been published.

    From the National Conference of State Legislators:
    When an eligible voter casts an absentee (or mail) ballot, then dies before the election, does the ballot still count?
    Some states are silent on this issue. Others address it directly in statute, either by prohibiting or permitting the counting of ballots from voters who die before Election Day.

    Eight states—Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia—have statutes that explicitly permit counting absentee ballots cast by voters who die before Election Day; one state—Connecticut—only counts these ballots if the deceased voter is a member of the armed services.
    Ten states—Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin— have statutes that explicitly prohibit counting absentee ballots cast by voters who die before Election Day. Missouri states that such ballots be rejected only if sufficient evidence is shown to an election authority that the voter has died before the opening of the polls on Election Day, and the deceased voter’s ballot is still sealed in the ballot envelope.
    At least two states—Kentucky and Mississippi—also prohibit counting deceased voters’ ballots, but through attorneys general opinions, rather than statute.
    In the remaining 29 states, NCSL has not found citations indicating whether absentee/mail ballots from voters who die before Election Day are to be counted.
    As a practical matter, it is hard to retrieve ballots from people who have died between casting their votes and Election Day. Once the absentee ballot has been verified and removed from the envelope for counting, the ballot cannot be retraced to the voter.

    Catching a ballot, then, is only possible when it is still in its return envelope, and only in cases where election officials have received notice of the death.
    It appears to be a matter of a few technical issues including state law, if the ballot was removed from the identifying envelope and if those processing the ballots were notified of a voter's death.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 03-13-2023 at 2:31 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  14. #14
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    In most places you need to be alive on election day for your vote to count. The case of a postponed election is interesting, it may or may not be covered by the relevant laws. I've never heard of an election being postponed for weather, though some probably should have been.

    There was a lot of interest in dead voters a few years ago, quite a few cases were examined in detail. The good news was that in each case it seems the local election officials had correctly counted or not counted the ballots in question. Those folks take their work very seriously and do an excellent, under-appreciated job.

  15. #15
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    The dead vote early and often in Chicago. We have early voting here. 3 or 4 weeks before scheduled election you can go to the county courthouse and cast your vote. Standard ballot and when finished it's inserted into the voting machine and processed. It's not uncommon depending upon when you vote for the machine to show a 100 plus ballots have been processed. There is no way they would know who cast votes for what or whom. Wouldn't an absentee be the same? If the absentee requires an identifying sheet or something then you certainly wouldn't be able to vote anonymously. I've never cast an absentee because I took advantage of the early voting option.

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