World War II vet Frank Tanabe never missed voting in a presidential election. And last week, he cast his final ballot from his hospice bed in Hawaii.
Tanabe, 93, has terminal liver cancer. A photo posted on Reddit by his grandson Noah has resonated with thousands online.
Noah Tanabe wrote: ”My grandfather is proud of having voted in every single presidential election since he was awarded his citizenship in order to serve during WWII. Here he is, 93 years old and on his deathbed, with my aunt helping him fill out one last ballot.”
The Associated Press reports:
Barbara Tanabe read aloud the names of the candidates to her dad. He either nodded “yes” to the names or shook his head “no.” She filled in the boxes on his behalf, following his instructions even when he didn’t pick the people she wanted.
“There were some that were OK, but there were others where I said, ‘Dad, are you sure?’” she said.
But he knew what he was doing. He’s kept up on the issues, reading newspapers regularly until only recently, she said.
Tanabe had been a student at the University of Washington when Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during the start of the war. He then joined the Army while at the Tule Lake internment camp in California, and served in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team—which went on to become the most decorated regiment in U.S. military history.
But the AP adds that Tanabe’s ballot could be considered invalid if he dies before November 6:
Glenn Takahashi, Honolulu election administrator, said absentee ballots cast by voters who later die become invalid if the state Department of Health notifies elections officials of the death before Election Day. To void a ballot when that happens, officials have to be able to sort through tens of thousands of ballots to find the one in question. This is not always practical, and so the ballot is counted if it isn’t.
So, who did Tanabe vote for? We don’t know for sure, but Noah adds in the comments section on his post that his grandfather has always been “a lifelong Democrat, so I can’t imagine he didn’t vote [for] Obama.”