Madelyn Dunham's absentee ballot will be counted, says an election official

By Stephen M. Silverman
November 05, 2008 12:00 PM
Obama For America/REUTERS/Landov

While many have remarked on the tragic irony of the death of Barack Obama’s grandmother two days before she could have seen him elected to the most powerful job in the world, the late Madelyn Dunham has imparted a final gift to her beloved grandson: her vote.

Election officials in Hawaii, where Dunham, 86, had lived, confirmed that her absentee ballot will be counted, the Associated Press reports.

Explaining his state’s law, Kevin Cronin, chief elections officer for Hawaii, said Tuesday that absentee ballots cast by someone who dies before an election are discarded only if a state death notice arrives before Election Day.

Dunham’s ballot was received Oct. 27, said Cronin, adding that her death notice had yet to appear.

“Because she was alive on the 27th and [her ballot] had the same processing as other absentee ballots, it will be counted,” he said.

Talking about his grandmother on Election eve, Obama said, “She has gone home. … I’m not going to talk about it too often because it’s hard to talk about.”

In his concession speech Tuesday night, Obama’s GOP rival John McCain said, “Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her Creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.”

Picking up on the theme of his grandmother’s looking down from heaven on his historic accomplishment, President-elect Obama said during his acceptance speech in Chicago: “And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.”

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