By Chris Glorioso and Kristina Sola
Nursing home residents have borne the very worst of the global pandemic. And now, weeks before the 2020 election, analysts fear health risks and visitor restrictions could effectively disenfranchise thousands of senior voters who are still locked down in long-term care facilities.
Donny Tuchman, CEO of the Cobble Hill Health Center, said his staff is working overtime to make sure residents get absentee ballots and have their voices heard.
“In past years, we actually had Board of Elections representatives come into our building to be here so we could bring residents down to vote in person,” Tuchman said. “This year, obviously, that’s not going to happen. So it’s all going to be by absentee ballot.”
The CDC estimated there were more than 1.3 million nursing home residents living in more than 15,000 facilities across the U.S. in 2016. According to federal law, nursing home staff are required to help facilitate voting for disabled and senior residents.
Carlene Dalton, resident council president at the Cobble Hill Health Center, praised nursing home staff for their help navigating a complex ballot process. But she also expressed concern about whether city and state election officials are up to the task of administering an election with so many vote-by-mail applicants. Already, the Cobble Hill Health Center had to discard dozens of absentee ballots sent to residents because those ballots were part of a larger batch with address and name mix-ups.
Early voting in NY State runs from October 24 – November 1.
For more information on how to vote this election, visit vote.nyc.
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