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2024 General Election: Voting and Dementia, rights and accessibility

Anyone living with Dementia is eligible – has a right – to vote in the General Election (and all elections in the UK).  No-one can vote on someone’s behalf (ie decide their actual vote) even if, under the Mental Capacity Act, the person living with Dementia is deemed unable to make their own decisions. The actual process of voting might be practically difficult, but with the right support and help, you can ensure that your loved one is able to exercise their democratic right on 4 July this year.    

Here we provide a comprehensive guide on the voting rights of those living with Dementia, options available for voting, and tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Understanding Dementia and Voting Rights

It’s important to clarify that people living with dementia have the same right to vote as everyone else. According to the Electoral Commission, there are no legal barriers preventing people with dementia from voting, even if they lack mental capacity. The Mental Capacity Act does not apply to voting, which means that the lack of mental capacity alone does not disqualify someone from voting.

Key Points:

  • Equal Voting Rights: People with dementia have the same voting rights as every other eligible citizen.
  • No Legal Incapacity: Lack of mental capacity does not prevent someone from voting.
  • Supportive Legislation: The Electoral Commission supports the voting rights of disabled individuals, including those with dementia.

Different ways to cast a vote

Going to the polling station on Election day is just one option for someone living with Dementia. 

Postal voting, a proxy vote are the alternatives and we explain them in more detail here – including the deadlines to register.

Voting and Dementia for the General Election 2024

Voting in person at a polling station

Individuals with dementia can vote in person at their local polling station. Polling stations provide extra support for people with disabilities, including those with dementia. Staff are trained to assist voters who might need help understanding the process or require physical assistance.

Tips for In-Person Voting:

  • Choose Quieter Times: Voting at quieter times of the day can help reduce stress and confusion.
  • Request Assistance: Voters can ask polling station staff for help with the voting process.
  • Bring Photo ID: Accepted forms of voter ID include a passport, driving licence, Blue Badge, or concessionary travel pass.
  • Accompaniment: Voters can be accompanied by a relative or a carer for additional support.

Postal Voting

For those who may find it difficult to get to a polling station, postal voting is a convenient alternative. The application for a postal vote can be completed online or via a paper form from the local Election Registration Office

Living with Dementia postal voting in the General Election

Postal voting is often favoured by people and caregivers living with dementia as it helps avoid stressful situations and strange environments that can make individuals with dementia anxious.

Tips for Postal Voting:

  • Assist with Completion: Caregivers can assist in filling out the postal vote form, ensuring all details are correct and legible.

Proxy Voting

Proxy voting allows someone else to vote on behalf of the individual with dementia. This can be arranged through the Election Registration Office and must be set up in advance.

Tips for Proxy Voting:

  • Choose a Trusted Proxy: The proxy should be someone who understands the voter’s preferences and will follow their wishes. It can be a family member, neighbour, work colleague or friend.
  • Arrange in Advance: Proxy voting arrangements must be made ahead of time to ensure everything is in place by election day.

Video about proxy voting here. 

Practical tips for carers and supporters

Caregivers play a crucial role in helping individuals with dementia exercise their right to vote. Here are some practical tips for caregivers:

  1. Provide Reminders

People with dementia may need reminders about the upcoming election and the importance of their vote. Regularly reminding them about the election date and discussing the candidates can help keep them engaged. Rolling news channels can also help provide information key to their decision-making.

  1. Support During Voting

Whether voting in person, by post, or by proxy, provide as much support as needed to help the individual understand their choices and the voting process.

  1. Choose the Best Method

Consider the individual’s condition and choose the voting method that will be easiest and least stressful for them.

The right to vote is for life

Voting is not only a civic duty but can also provide valuable opportunities for connection, reminiscence, and a sense of purpose for people living with dementia. It is so important to  respect someone’s right to make decisions about voting, whether they choose to vote or not.

Benefits of Voting for people living with Dementia:

  • Connection and Engagement: Participating in the voting process can help individuals feel connected to their community and engaged in current events.
  • Sense of Purpose: Casting a vote can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose as well as the ability to still make a difference.
  • Voice in Democracy: Ensuring that people with dementia have an equal voice in their communities is crucial for inclusive and representative governance.

The Right To Vote is For Life

Ensuring that individuals with dementia can vote is vital for their inclusion in the democratic process.

By understanding their rights, exploring various voting methods, and providing the necessary support, carers can help make voting a positive and empowering experience.

For further information and support, caregivers and family members can reach out to organizations such as Dementia Support, which offers valuable resources and assistance tailored to the needs of those living with dementia.

More Info for Voting with Dementia Support:

Dementia UK

Alzheimer’s Society

Dementia Support

Let’s ensure that the voices of those living with Dementia continue to be heard in our democratic process. Register to vote, support your loved ones, and make every vote count.

 

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