What If Kaci Hickox Wants to Vote?
If there’s one highly motivated, registered voter out there ahead of next Tuesday’s midterm elections, it sure would seem to be Maine nurse and quarantine-defying bicyclist Kaci Hickox.
Here’s the hitch: Hickox does not appear to be registered to vote in Maine, where the governor would like her to remain at home through Nov. 10, the end of her 21-day quarantine. She is registered in Clark County, Nev., where she worked with the Centers for Disease Control in Las Vegas, though officials say she hasn't applied for an absentee ballot.
She might already have a voting plan—her lawyer didn't respond to requests for comment on Thursday—but in case she doesn't, we’ve mapped out three paths for her to cast a ballot, each riddled with complications.
1. Vote in Maine
She could still try to vote absentee in Fort Kent, Maine, where she now lives, if the quarantine that LePage says applies to her were to prevent her from going to the polls in person. And LePage is running for re-election on Tuesday's ballot, giving Hickox a perfect chance to cast a protest vote.
But her window is closing. Today “is the last day to obtain an absentee ballot,” said Angela Coulombe, the town clerk, in a telephone interview.
This is problematic, Coulombe said, because “as of this moment, Ms. Hickox is not a registered voter in the town of Fort Kent.”
The good news is that in Maine, there is no deadline for registering to vote in person at your town office or city hall. The bad news is, Hickox might have trouble doing anything in person at a government office if the state tries to force her to stay in isolation. The deadline for registering to vote by mail in Maine was Oct. 14.
2. Fly to Nevada
There is another option, but it would probably require air travel—that’s to get back to Clark County in time to cast a ballot. This may open up a nest of jurisdictional issues between the federal government and the states, as well as a public relations conundrum for commercial airlines.
If such a plan is in the works, no one has told Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe P. Gloria, who didn’t realize Hickox was registered there until a reporter called. “Well, that’s public information, I can tell you,” he said, clicking on a computer keyboard. “Hmm.”
Hickox is still on the rolls as an active voter, but she has not applied for an absentee ballot, and that deadline has passed, Gloria said. “So if she’s going to vote she’s going to have to vote in person,” he said, while sounding dubious. “She’s got other things on her mind.”
3. Seek political intervention
If both paths hit dead ends, would President Barack Obama intervene?
Obama has spoken publicly in recent days about the importance of government being driven by science rather than fear and he’s met with U.S. health care workers who were in West Africa and even hugged the Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, who had Ebola and recovered.
But he’s not yet met with Hickox. And though he was scheduled to visit Maine Thursday for gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud and other Democrats, there were no plans for Obama to meet with Hickox, said spokesman Eric Schultz.