Incident makes you wonder about mail-in voting

Published 8:12 pm Thursday, October 22, 2020

My mother, Dorothy Stubbs, is well known to many in our community as a regular past contributor to “Your Take” with numerous photographs of her cats and community activities.

She is over 98 years old and I moved her to my home where a team of great caregivers plus my wife and I give her care due to her progressive disabilities typical of most 98 year olds.

Stressful, but an honor at the same time. I am blessed to have a loving wife and caregivers and home to make this possible.

I am puzzled, however, by the fact that despite the fact that she has been at my home near Ferriday, Louisiana, since Jan. 31 of this year that I still receive absentee ballots and jury summons from Adams County seeking her vote and service.

I reported her change of address at least in February to the Post Office and the bank and other companies she owed payments to. I sold her home in April of this year, obviously in the public record, but still get these notices from our public offices.

She no longer owns property or has any mailing address in Adams County. Could I have cast a vote for her in Adams County that would have counted?

I hope not, but I don’t know. Did I register her in Louisiana? No. Though I believe I know how she would have voted, I do not feel that would have been appropriate given her state of mind.

Those who know her can guess her position, but I believe it is unethical to vote for someone else. The vote in our country is about as sacred and personal as anything we do and I believe no one should be in position to express your heart and private thoughts about your confidential vote without your clear directive and blessing. My mother gave me the right for business and medical decisions, but the right to vote was not on the list.
I recently heard the Lieutenant Governor of Utah, in charge of their very successful mail in voting system, explaining how they developed mail in voting over 10 years of tweaking the system that included monthly updates from the U.S. Post Office about moving voters, regular updates of deaths from their vital statistics office, and signature cards on file that are compared to all mail in ballots with have specific identification numbers. This system, he said, could not be put in place in 2 to 3 months and took at least 10 years to develop.
Why do our government agencies not have this connectivity? How can my mother vote where she doesn’t live? If I had registered her as a voter in Louisiana, where her official address with Social Security, Medicare, her bank, her debtors, and the US Post Office is listed, could I have voted for her despite her mental state?

Some may have different opinions about some of this. But our government agencies charged with overseeing honest elections could surely do better at coordinating publicly available information. Is mail in voting safe and honest in Louisiana and Mississippi? I pray it is for my country.

Dr. Kenneth Stubbs is a resident of Concordia Parish.