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Determined to vote, 89-year old California veteran signs ballot while strapped to gurney

A poll worker gets "I Voted" stickers ready to hand to voters as they finished up at the ballot booths at Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa, Fla., on November 6, 2012. (Carolina Hidalgo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)
November 03, 2020

After spending 26 years in the Air Force as an aerospace ground equipment specialist, Merced’s Richard Howard takes the privilege of voting in elections seriously.

Howard, 89, has participated in every election.

“He doesn’t miss voting,” said daughter Kathryn Howard Taylor. “He never ever misses voting, period.”

The Howard family had to work to make that happen this year after Richard injured himself during a fall at his home. Richard injured his shoulder and spent three days at Mercy Medical Center Merced.

Richard had previously filled out his mail-in ballot, but hadn’t signed the return envelope.

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Due to COVID-19 protocols, the family couldn’t bring the envelope to Richard while he was in the hospital. So they improvised and were able to arrange the ambulance to stop when he was transferred to Anberry Transitional Care in Merced on Thursday.

The emergency personnel took the time to wheel Richard out on a gurney so he could sign his mail-in ballot, so it could be returned while his family watched.

“He had a big smile on his face,” Howard Taylor said.

Richard was surrounded by his wife, Mary — who he’s been married to for 68 years — and his family. The Howard family has lived in Merced since 1964.

His daughter said Richard has voted in every election since he was able to vote, and he wasn’t about to miss this one. Even with a damaged shoulder.

“Absolutely,” Howard Taylor said. “He had to vote. He’d have to be 6 feet under not to vote.”

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(c) 2020 the Merced Sun-Star

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.