Voting by Older Adults with Cognitive Impairments

Issue Brief

Voting by Older Adults with Cognitive Impairments

Jason Karlawish Issue Brief

This presidential election year reminds us of the importance of each vote and of the integrity of the electoral process. Recent elections have been decided by very narrow margins. In this context, the voting rights and capacity of persons with dementia warrant attention. About 4.5 million Americans currently live with dementia. Whether these citizens should vote raises a host of ethical, legal, and practical issues. At what point does someone lose the capacity to vote, and who decides? What kinds of assistance should these voters get, and who should provide it? And how can the voting rights of residents in long-term care facilities be protected?