People with dementia have the same right to vote as everyone else. Here, we explain why people with dementia can still vote, and the different ways you can vote if you choose to.
No one can be prevented from voting because they have dementia.
It is important we send this message far and wide to ensure that people with dementia have an equal voice in their communities up and down the country.
What does the law say about dementia and voting?
Everyone with dementia has a right to vote. The Mental Capacity Act provides a framework for making decisions on behalf of people who lack capacity to make a decision but this does not apply to voting. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to vote.
However, people with dementia may face additional barriers when the time comes to go to the polls.
For example, they may need to be reminded of the date or need support getting to the polling station.
A person with dementia can also have a companion to assist them at the polling station. The companion must be a close relative (spouse, civil partner, son or daughter). The Presiding Officer at the polling station will be able to provide more information.
Making your vote count
Register to vote
To take part in elections you must be registered to vote in person, by post or by proxy.
How to vote in person
If you have registered to vote in person, polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on the day of the election (also known as polling day).
Local authorities have a responsibility to ensure polling stations are accessible. If you need assistance, either contact your local council in advance, or speak to the staff at your polling station
From 2023, people in England will need to show photo ID before they vote at polling stations. This includes a passport, drivers licence or a travel card such as a bus pass with your photograph on it. A full list of acceptable documents can be found here.
If you don't have any photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate.
How to vote by post
If you have applied to vote by post, you will receive a postal ballot pack.
Once your postal voting pack arrives, complete your ballot paper and as soon as you are ready to return your vote, take it to the post box yourself.
If you can't post it yourself, you can can ask someone you trust to post it for you. You can also contact the elections team at your local council to ask if they can collect it from you.
The elections team at your local council will need to receive your postal vote by 10pm on polling day.
If you can't post your postal vote in time, you can take it to your polling station or to your local council on polling day.
How to vote by proxy
Anyone can appoint someone else to vote on their behalf. This is called voting by proxy. Your proxy is not allowed to make a decision about who to vote for – they just fulfil your wishes.
Although you don’t need mental capacity to vote, the Electoral Commission does require you to have mental capacity to appoint and maintain a proxy.
If you have already applied to vote by proxy, here is what your appointed proxy needs to do on polling day:
- The person you have appointed as your proxy will need to go to your polling station to cast your vote.
- They will then vote on your behalf, but in doing so they must vote the way you have instructed them too.
- They will receive a proxy poll card telling them where and when to cast your vote for you.
It is important to note that if you have made a Lasting Power of Attorney, your attorney cannot vote on your behalf. Only someone you have appointed to act as your proxy can cast your vote on your behalf, but in doing so must follow your wishes.
This post was last updated in March 2023.
Making your voice heard
By voting, you have the chance to make sure your voice is heard on issues you care about. Find out more about how we work with local governments.