Voting Rights for People in Assisted-Living Facilities
Can the constitutional right to vote be taken away?By Amy White | Last updated on January 26, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- What challenges would disqualify a person from voting?
- What’s ok—and what isn’t—when it comes to the voting guidance those in assisted living facilities may receive?
- For family members concerned about their loved one’s voting rights, there are steps they can take.
What challenges would disqualify a person from voting?“This is a hot-button topic for me, actually, so I want to be clear that even if someone is declared incapacitated by the court such that they’d need a guardianship, it’s not an automatic that they should lose their right to vote,” Geiger says. “It’s unconstitutional to tie the two together.” Geiger points to the American Bar Association’s most recent guidelines on the issue. “The American Bar Association’s guidance is that if an individual is able to state a preference, for example, if they can say, ‘Trump’ or ‘Biden,’ then that’s sufficient.”
What’s ok—and what isn’t—when it comes to the voting guidance those in assisted living facilities may receive?“Dependent on one’s disability, someone [in the center] can assist with reading and with making a mark, and they can even assist them with a discussion about a candidate as a way to support someone with mild-cognitive impairment,” she says. “An aide can assist, but he or she can’t make the decision, so the discussion must be limited. It can’t sway; it’s about listening to what a person who wants to vote has to say or thinks about it, and help ferret out their decision.”
For family members concerned about their loved one’s voting rights, there are steps they can take.Start with a conversation with the family member about if he or she is interested in voting, Geiger says, and, if your loved one happens to have a guardianship, ensure your loved one’s wish makes it to his or her guardian. Dependent on ability, you should also consider giving your family member a crash course in voting technology, she suggests. “You might have to help them figure out how to go online to vote; or, if they want to vote in person, and are able to do so, stand in line with them and be a support system.” Also account for vision or hearing issues, which could require walking a family member through the entirety of a mail-in ballot for absentee voting. “This pandemic has really changed how I’ll approach voting with my clients and their families in the future,” Geiger says. “It’s hard for me to admit this, but I don’t think I’ve spent much time in the past building this voting conversation into the other important conversations I have with clients and families. And it’s not that hard to do.” If you have questions or concerns about a nursing home resident’s rights, an experienced Virginia elder law attorney can help. For more general information about this area of law, see our overview on elder law.
What do I do next?Enter your location below to get connected with a qualified attorney today.
Popular attorney searches: Elder law Health care
Attorney directory searches
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you