Frank Tanabe is on his deathbed in hospice care, suffering from an inoperable cancer tumor on his liver. With the help of his daughter he filled out his one last ballot on October 18, and thanks to inefficiency and the sheer number of votes, his vote will most likely count even if he dies before election night. Technically, Tanabe's vote shouldn't count which would upset anyone with a heart and the people responsible for the 589,260 views his picture and story have found on Reddit. "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," reports the AP. But apparently invalidating a vote is, like, really tough. "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," adds the AP. Similarly in 2008, Barack Obama's grandmother died two days nights before the election but her vote still helped her grandson win and counted because the Health Department didn't receive her certificate of death in time.
So yay for impracticality! But in all seriousness, the big reason we're pulling for Tanabe to see his vote count and the only reason we know who Tanabe is well, because of Reddit. Tanabe is one of the silver linings to the volatile, divisive Violentacrez drama. The same online forum that spews out weird porny arguments, can be the same online forum that lets users share touching photos like Tanabe's. Thanks to the thousands of people who up-voted Tanabe's grandon's post (the thread has over 11,000 up-votes a.k.a. Reddit's version of a Facebook "like"), we, through the AP, now know Tanabe's story: how he was pulled out of the University of Washington and put into an Japanese internment camp, how he volunteered to join the Army when he was in that internment camp, how he received a Congressional Gold Medal last year for his service in WWII, and how he has voted in every election since he received his citizenship.
"Barbara Tanabe said her father, a quiet, unassuming man, would wonder what the fuss over the photo was about. But he'd be thrilled it encouraged others to vote, she said" writes the the AP. "That would be the ultimate honour for him," Tanabe said. And knowing all of that almost makes not knowing who Tanabe voted for not matter—neither the AP nor Reddit found out which way Tanabe leaned, but Tanabe's family members assured the AP and Reddit that they filled out the absentee ballot as Frank wished.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.