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Voting From Beyond The Grave

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012

Voting by absentee ballot has been a growing trend in recent years, but there is one important question some election officers are asking about these votes: do they count if the voter mails the ballot but dies before election day?

The validity of these ballots varies from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). In Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, New Jersey, and South Dakota, state statutes say these votes should not be counted. But in Montana and Louisiana, the legislature reasons that if an individual took the time to vote before Election Day, his or her vote should count.

So while some controversy about elections centers around the validity of electronic voting machines and “hanging chads,” a more fundamental question is: once the signed envelope has been opened, how can you identify the voter? It is unlikely that the poll workers will be checking the signed envelopes against the obituaries, and death records are often not official for weeks.

As the NCSL blog notes, “Unlike many election questions, this one does not have a partisan edge. Death makes no distinction between Democrats, Republicans and independents as they cast their absentee ballots.”

What do you think?

Should this so-called “voting from the grave” be legal?

Is it ethical?

Leave your comments here.

Tags: National Conference of State Legislatures, voting by absentee ballot

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