Are absentee ballots legitimate if the person dies between voting and the election?

Absentee ballots provide a way for people to vote weeks in advance of the actual election. This is presumably to allow for the vagaries of steamships, carriages, and the pony express, not to mention the ever-late 3:15 autogyro to Siam. So let’s say an expat votes, sends in his ballot, and then kicks the bucket a few weeks before the Main Event. Is his vote counted? He obviously isn’t currently eligible to vote at the time of the election (not even in Chicago). He was eligible before he died, but he died before the votes were tallied.

I think in terms of practicality, the vote would be counted.

In the first place, who in the elections office is going to spend time combing through obituaries and death notices to compare names against the list of absentee ballots that were mailed out.

In the second place, unless the voter puts a return address on the ballot, how are they going to identify which ballot came from which person?

As far as your first place, you’re probably right.

However, as far as your second place, on the outer envelope of an absentee ballot, there is all sorts of identifying information, including the voter’s name, address, and signature, which is normally verified before the ballot is opened and counted.


Which is absolutely necessary, if you stop to think about it, because without all that, a single person could anonymously send in thousands of absentee ballots.

I’m sure they are for practical reasons, but I’m also not convinced that they shouldn’t be counted, even if it were practical to weed them out.

There are always going to be people who vote and then die before whatever their vote would actually effect occurs. It seems to me that expanding that window to include the time that absentee ballots are out is reasonable.

In some places, people can vote at the polls early, ie, before the final election day. Should we eliminate the votes from people who die before the final election day? If not, on what philosophical grounds should we treat a vote placed at an official station different than a vote placed in an envelope?

I’ve wondered about this, too, but I think there are simply too many obstcles to trying to find out who all’s still alive come election day. Surely, not THAT many people are going to die in the intervening period. I am identitifed on my absentee ballots, or rather on the official ballot envelope that I place inside the mailing envelope; they have to mark the rolls that I voted. And I shall try my damnedest not to die in the next month, since I’ve already sent mine in.

Yes, they are legitimately counted.

Consider a person who comes into the polling place on election day morning, votes, and then has a heart attack and dies as he is exiting the room. Should the vote he just cast be counted?

The answer is yes, because he voted, and he met the legal requirements for voting (a citizen, over 18, resided here for the last 20+days, not prohibited from voting by court order or sentence).

All the same would be true of the absentee ballot person, at the time he voted. His vote was legally cast at the time he put it into the mail to the city clerk. The fact that he died afterwards does not invalidate his ballot, any more than the fact that the voter who had a heart attack on election day, and died before the polls closed, does not invalidate the ballot that he cast.

Both those votes would be counted, and they should be counted.

It depends on the state. It won’t count in South Dakota, but will count in most states. These ghost votes are not in large enough numbers to really make a difference in elections.

Cough Florida2000 Cough.

Damn bug!