Red tape prevents 87-year-old vet from voting - WSMV Channel 4

Red tape prevents 87-year-old vet from voting

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An 87-year-old Madison man who has never missed voting in an election is finding that red tape may keep him from casting his ballot in the upcoming presidential election.

Jack Jones is home under hospice care. He was diagnosed with advanced cancer a month ago and is too weak from radiation treatments to go to his normal polling place to vote.  

His daughter tried to get him an absentee ballot from the Metro Election Commission but learned that she was two days too late.

Tennessee state law says to vote absentee by mail, someone must make an application seven days before the election.

"I was told he'd missed the deadline," his daughter, Jocelyn Sprouse, said.

The state elections coordinator, Mark Goins, said the situation hits close to home because his mother was recently diagnosed with cancer, but the law isn't flexible.

"My wish would have been his request was done several days ago, but I understand when you've got cancer, you're thinking about cancer, and not deadlines and voting and those procedures," Goins said.

Jones' family said their father is always excited to vote on election day and didn't want to vote by absentee ballot until it became clear he was too weak to leave the house.

"I thought I was getting stronger, or we would have applied for an absentee ballot," Jones said.

Jones is a World War II Navy veteran who served in Japan as the war was ending. He considers it a duty and privilege  to vote.  

What the family struggles to understand is that if their father was hospitalized, election officials would come to his room to help him vote. The law doesn't allow that for hospice patients who choose to die at home.

His daughter said the law should accommodate people in hospice care.

"This hasn't been thought out.  And there are many people besides my dad who don't get to vote and don't have an advocate for them," Sprouse said.

Michael Jones, Jack Jones' son, said he  hopes someone in authority will help his father -  a veteran who has a strong love for democracy.  

"Show some compassion to an 87-year-old veteran who has served his country. Make it possible. Cut through the bureaucratic red tape, and let this man vote," Michael Jones said.

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