No one needs any more potential problems with people voting in the upcoming election.
However, Cathy Bencini and her husband, former High Point Mayor Bill Bencini, came across one when trying to help Cathy’s 96-year-old mother vote from a nursing home. Her mother is a resident of Pennybryn at Maryfield in High Point and the problem came when the two were attempting to help the mother vote in the upcoming election.
Cathy Bencini described the predicament in a letter to the Guilford County Board of Elections: “She has requested an absentee ballot since she will be prohibited from voting in person at the Pennybryn location for Independent Living due to COVID restrictions imposed by DHHS and the facility.”
Cathy stated, “At this time, visitation is not allowed in the Skilled Nursing section of Pennybryn. It has come to my attention, as her daughter and Power of Attorney, that the absentee ballot must be witnessed by a family member and NOT a care facility administrator.”
Bill Bencini said this week that the election rules had the family in a bind. He also said he was concerned about others who might run into this same obstacle.
Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said it was a good question, but he added that there is a way for nursing home residents in this situation to vote.
“The request for a ballot can be done by the voter or the voter’s near relative,” Collicutt stated in an email to the Rhino Times. “We then mail a ballot to the voter. Voter fills out ballot, signs certification on the envelope. Next, a witness signs. It does not need to be a relative!”
Collicutt wrote that the caveat is that it cannot be an employee of the home, but he added that it could be other residents of the home, volunteers, a mail carrier or someone else who isn’t an employee.
Collicutt added, “We can send out a small team to help, but only for places that would allow some type of visitation. If not, it needs to be navigated within the facility.”