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At 91, short on time, NC veteran made sure to vote once more

Voting tags at St. Augustine College are on display as Chicago voters hit the polls on April 2, 2019. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Nothing could stop Paul Sciortino from voting Tuesday — not 91 years, not hospice care, not even a Democrat daughter.

So with the help of his wife, a nurse and his politically opposed offspring, the World War II veteran climbed into his wheelchair and rolled to the polls.

“It’s a privilege,” he explained. “Bad officials are elected by good people who don’t vote.”

Sciortino doesn’t expect to live long. For the last year, he’s struggled with amyloidosis, a rare disease that has attached itself to his heart.

He keeps mostly to his Apex bed, too senior a patient for chemotherapy or a heart transplant. But every morning he asked his wife of 33 years, Joan Brookes, for a ride to the polls.

“He was scared if he mailed in his ballot, I would change his vote,” joked his daughter Kim Sniffen, sporting a Biden/Harris sticker on her shirt.

Sciortino grew up in Brooklyn, where he joined the Navy one month after his 17th birthday. He shipped out both to the North Atlantic and the Pacific, going on to work after the war as an agent with J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

He knows a little about politics, having served as a Commonwealth attorney in Virginia. And as Brookes and his nurse Keisha Barrett pushed him past the electioneers, he accepted a pair of Trump stickers, fixing one to his ball cap.

“Obviously,” said Brookes, furthering the household political divide, “we will erase each other’s votes.”

Sciortino got first-class treatment, skipping the line at Apex Community Center. A group of poll workers applauded as he approached.

He got his own voting table off to the side of the busy gymnasium, where he filled in oval after oval, avoiding Democrats, he said afterward. Then Brookes helped him push his ballot into the counter, where it had resisted his shaky hand.

On his way back to the car, passing voters tapped his shoulder and thanked him. He thanked them all back, politely answering questions.

With his vote counted, he left with his chest covered in stickers — his reward for citizenship.

“Let’s go, Dear,” he said as reporters snapped his picture. “Voting wore me out. I want to go to bed.”


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