Voting and the Cognitively Impaired
27 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2011
Date Written: 2004
This paper addresses an emerging policy problem: participation in the electoral process by citizens with dementia. At present, health care professionals, family caregivers, and long-term care staff lack adequate guidance to decide whether individuals with dementia should be precluded from, or assisted in, casting a ballot. Voting by persons with dementia raises a series of important questions about the autonomy of individuals with dementia, the integrity of the electoral process, and the prevention of fraud. Three subsidiary issues warrant special attention: development of a method to assess the capacity to vote; identification of the appropriate kinds of assistance to enable persons with cognitive impairment to vote; and formulation of uniform and workable policies for voting in long-term care settings. In some instances, extrapolation from existing policies and research permits reasonable recommendations to guide policy and practice. However, in other instances additional research is necessary.
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