Hundreds of Thousands of Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able to Vote in November Because of the Pandemic

by Ryan McCarthy and Jack Gillum: For the Entire Post, Go Here…

Renowned inventor Walter Hutchins has voted in every presidential election since 1952. This year, as many states stopped sending teams to help seniors vote, his nursing home was on coronavirus lockdown and his streak was in jeopardy.

Walter Hutchins cast his first vote for president for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, and he has voted in every election since. The last thing he wants is for his “68-year streak,” as he proudly calls it, to end in November.

An industrial engineer, Hutchins helped design the M16, the weapon of choice for American soldiers during the Vietnam War, and he invented several tools that may be currently sitting in your garage. He and his wife, Margaret, a teacher and ordained Episcopal minister whom he married the year after he voted for Ike, were “executive gypsies,” she said. They followed his jobs from Connecticut to Florida, New York and Wisconsin, until they retired to North Carolina. Wherever they were, they always voted — in fire stations, churches, their retirement community. When Walter became blind and hard of hearing, Margaret helped him in the voting booth.

This year, what stumped Hutchins, despite all his resourcefulness, was how he was going to exercise his basic constitutional right to vote during a pandemic. The Davis Community nursing home in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Hutchins has lived for two years, has barred visitors since March. Margaret, still in the retirement community nearby, can’t help him, nor can their four kids and eight grandchildren.

Neither can the nursing home staff. A 2013 state law prohibits staff at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and rest homes from helping residents with their ballots. Some North Carolina counties, including New Hanover, where Wilmington is located, send teams into nursing homes to assist voters or bring them to polling places, but the threat of the coronavirus has limited that service as well.

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