In Highland County, 95-year-old Mildred Meddock registered and voted for the first time in her life despite her advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
Her granddaughters learned of her newfound patriotism when they visited the nursing home where Meddock lives and saw an “I voted today” sticker on her clothing.
Records show that Meddock registered Sept. 26 when two Highland County Board of Elections employees visited the home, Heartland of Hillsboro, about 65 miles south of Columbus. Four other residents also were registered and voted that day.
“I’m hot. I’m livid,” said granddaughter Chrystal Brown. “A month ago, she couldn’t tell you her name she was so bad, and, depending on what time of day it is, her name is the only thing she can tell you.”
The secretary of state’s office is investigating, assigning an attorney to the case and giving him subpoena power.
“When you have a captive audience dealing with a disability, there’s always a concern about undue influence,” Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner told The Dispatch tonight.
My Grandmother had to be admitted to a nursing home after her Alzheimer’s became too advanced for family members to deal with privately, and the nursing home in New Jersey that she was at did have people who came in to help residents register and vote, by absentee, during election time. As soon as I heard about that practice, the possibility for abuse became quite apparent to me — who would ever know that the absentee ballot completed by a woman who had voted in almost every election she had been able to since she’d moved there from Pennsylvania was completed by someone who believed she was waiting for her dead husband to take her home ?
As far as I was able to determine, though, mental competence wasn’t necessarily a requirement for voting, and the resources didn’t really exist to police practices like this. That, apparently, is also the case in Ohio.
We don’t really know how mentally competent Mildred Meddock was when she registered and voted, but given the fact that we’re probably going to have a lot more elderly voters with questionable mental capacities in the future, isn’t it about time we figured out whether they should be allowed to vote when they don’t even know what year it is ?