People in residential care homes in a different county from where they’re registered to vote, however, would be able to request mail-in ballots — a wrinkle that might wind up limiting some of the state’s most vulnerable voters from participating in the state’s upcoming Senate primary.
Nursing home residents can vote at their facilities, with election officials picking up ballots, said Julia Bruck, director of communications for the Tennessee secretary of state. “Nursing home residents are able to vote at the facility they reside,” she said. “In fact, many nursing home residents have already voted. Election officials collect the votes at the facility so it is not necessary for nursing home residents to mail their ballots back to the election commission office. This process ensures those in nursing homes are not disenfranchised.”
Bruck did not respond to a follow up to a question about how Covid-related restrictions on outside visitors to nursing homes have affected voting procedures.
“Our citizens in nursing homes should not have to jump through hoops just to vote. A state judge ordered that every voter has the right to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail because of the pandemic. Of course that order should apply to people who live in nursing homes,” Organize Tennessee, a nonpartisan grassroots organization that works to enfranchise voters, said in an email statement. “These are some of our most vulnerable and at-risk citizens in the state. The Secretary of State’s guidelines prohibiting nursing home residents from voting by mail are irresponsible and dangerous.”
Voting by mail
Potential danger of voting in person
Quiteka Moten, Tennessee’s long term care ombudsman, told CNN that she was aware of residents at nursing homes and care facilities who had been denied absentee ballots.
“As someone who has never missed voting since I turned 18, I am absolutely for everyone voting,” she said. “The fact that these folks have been sequestered in their rooms now for quite some time, a lot of their rights as residents waived, I just think that would be the ultimate punch. I just don’t want to see that happen.”