Can people with dementia vote?

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 want to.

No one can be prevented from voting because they have dementia.

It is important to know this so that people with dementia have an equal voice in their communities.

What does the law say about dementia and voting?

Everyone with dementia has a right to vote. You do not need to have mental capacity to vote.

The Mental Capacity Act provides a framework for making decisions on behalf of people who lack mental capacity to make a decision but this does not apply to voting. It is up to the individual to choose if they want to vote and who they want to vote for. No one can do that on their behalf.

However, people with dementia may face practical 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. They might also need extra help when they are at the polling station. 

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.

If you live in a care home you still have the right to vote. The staff there can help you to make sure you are registered. Don't be afraid to ask them.

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).

By law polling stations have to provide extra support to help people with disabilities to vote. This includes people with dementia. Extra support might include providing special equipment such as a magnifying glass or pencil grip, or lowering the writing surface to wheelchair level. 

You are also entitled to have someone accompany you in the polling station to help you to vote. This can be anyone who is 18 or over. If you don't have anyone who can help you can ask staff at the polling station to help you. 

If you need particular assistance, contact your local council in advance, or speak to the staff at your polling station

You will need to show photo ID before you vote at polling stations. This includes a passport, driving 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 can't get to the polling station, or would just prefer not to, don't worry. You can vote by post.
Find out more about voting by post and how to apply.

If you have applied to vote by post, you will receive a postal voting pack. Make sure you keep it safe.

The pack will tell you how to complete your ballot paper. 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 ask someone you trust to post it for you. You can't ask a candidate or political party worker to post it for 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 on polling day.

How to vote by proxy

Another option could be to appoint someone to make your vote for you. 

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. You need to tell your proxy who you want to vote for and they must follow that.

Although you don’t need mental capacity to vote, it is sometimes said that you have to have mental capacity to appoint a proxy. The law is not clear about this.

Unlike for a postal vote you do have to show a reason why you can’t get to the polling station when you make the application. This might be because you are going on holiday or because of a disability such as dementia.

Find out more about voting by proxy and how to apply.

This post was last updated in May 2024.

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.

Find out more

43 comments

Interesting article. I didn't realise that you could still vote even if you're living with dementia. I kind of wonder if this could be open to abuse. For example, I have POA for my auntie who has advanced Alzheimers & has absolutley no idea what is going on in the world. I'm thinking that if I wanted to I could vote how I want to rather than what I believe my auntie would vote for. Who's to know? It's very much based on trust isn't it? There's no way I would do this though as I have too much love & respect for my auntie, but you see what I mean though? I completely get why people with dementia should be allowed to vote, but it leaves me feeling uncomfortable.
I agree that voting is a sacred act of the citizen and that's why I don't think my mom should have been voting for the last 10 years. I don't think anyone with dementia should striped of their voting rights but I do think that if they can't represent themselves in a court of law and they can't for a coherent sentence, then it's like taking away the key to a car from a dementia patient. It's just the right thing to do at a certain point.
Ashley, I fully understand your concerns and this is an issue we should be concerned about. But as far as I am aware your POA does not give you the power to vote on your auntie's behalf. I have POA both medical and financial for my wife (as a precaution only) and neither applies to voting. If she is able to express a wish to vote, you could assist her in going to the polling station. But if you tried to enter the voting booth with her, you would be prevented by the staff. Or you could help her to fill in a postal vote. But I believe it would be a form of electoral fraud for anyone to use that help to vote in any way that was not her expressed intention. I'm not saying that it could not happen. You're probably right that no-one would know. But it would be illegal if it did happen.

My husband & I have always enjoyed walking to the polling station to cast our vote. Last year, before diagnosis, I realised he needed help (not choosing which party, just the process). The officers got upset with me. Now-he is still capable of knowing what he is doing, just needs help finding /confirming the right place on the paper etc. Wasn’t sure if to bother this time!

Hi,
I always read your blog even if it is for the UK and I am not there as there is nothing similar in my own country.

Unfortunately I have both my parents with dementia: my mum has Alzheimer's, she is 85 and my dad has vascular dementia he will be 85 next week!

My country's second round elections (there was a tie ) were this past Sunday April 3rd, we took my mum to the polls with what we know here as " assisted voting" a trusted person (in this case my brother) accompanied her and helped her vote.

She was very adamant for whom she wanted to vote but could not go through the " process" .

For my dad it's a different story, he has some moments of lucidity but a very unreliable attention span...

Hi, I coordinate the Green Party's Association of Green Councillors (AGC). I'm sure many Green councillors would like to join your councillors' network(and candidate will commit to joining if elected) but I can't see any information on your website about how they can join. Can you send me more information that I can circulate to Green Councillors please.

Hi Sally, thanks for your comment and interest in the councillors' network.

We'll be updating the website soon with detail of the network and how you can join. In the meantime, you can email [email protected] to register your interest and join the list.

Many thanks again,

Alzheimer's Society website team

My mother is in a Care Home and has Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia. She cannot do anything for herself (except breathe and to say the very odd "no") and she cannot even blow her nose when a tissue is put to it. She always voted for the same political party for the 35 years or so before she was diagnosed with dementia. She did not appoint a proxy and now would be unable to do so. Even if she had appointed me as a proxy as I cannot tell now how much she takes in or understands about what is going on around her I feel that it would be wrong to place a vote on her behalf.

I fully agree .
My mother has Alzheimer’s dementia as well . I opted out for her to vote anymore. As I think she wouldn’t know what she was doing and I don’t think it should be legal .
One of our residents was taken to vote today with his son . . The resident has end stage Alzheimer’s and has no idea what he’s doing . His son is a local councillor and took his father to vote today ..
Do you think this should be illegal?

My DH was happily settled in a care home before the last election. I was really annoyed that he had been denied a vote because the Care Home staff had registered him as 'lacking Capacity. This was a man who had been a very active member of a political party for all his adult life and had always voted - always for that party. He would have had no hesitation or difficulty in placing his cross where he wanted.
Further, the home would not permit any election literature to be brought into the premises.
When I thought about it, I realised that all efforts were made to ensure that residents were able to maintain their religious practices and encouraged to show their support for their football teams. Yet were denied the right to vote for their chosen party or Candidate.
If my DH had still lived at home he would have been able to vote without question. I am still furious about this.

I have had a postal vote for years. Quite painless!

i think in the early stages of dementia voting is great . but at the advanced stage i dont think that would be the individuals priority . i think we have to choose are battles and focus on better care support for those with dementia and where it so often goes into alzheimers my late husband had alizeimers and my brother has dementia which will advance to aleizheimers so at present able to vote thanks joanna

Teenagers, kids, toddlers and newborns "have the same right to vote as everyone else.
No one can be prevented from voting just because they are" young and have no mental capacity.
"It is important we send this message far and wide to ensure that" children "have an equal voice in their communities up and down the country."

Yes it is helpful 😃

The situation here can only skew election results if a POA makes the vote. The person with Alzheimer's (my mother) should by law, be taken off the roll due to incapacity.
Allowing a POA to make their vote is also wrong, because the person they were before Alzheimer's may have changed their mind with new information that came post Alzheimer's. Nobody knows what they would want to vote, including the afflicted soul...

I don't think it is wright to deprive them there from voting because they're still alive and there behaviour might change on the voting day.

My 8yo daughter understands all the concepts about climate change and would like to vote for Greens. Yet she is deprived from voting. And so are even 16yo kids already entitled to work and pay tax and who have life ahead. Kids have much more to loose from the consequences of the decisions made for them by the growing +65s majority statistically overwhelmingly voting for Trump, coal and Brexit.

It's very vital that people should think about the mental capacity of the client before mor thinking about voting

If the person with dementia has such advanced symptoms they have lost all communication, cannot make choices and cannot comprehend instructions let alone sign anything how do you remove them from the electoral roll?

Hello,

Thanks for your comment.

It is the person's choice whether they want to be removed from the electoral roll. The Mental Capacity Act, which provides a framework for making decisions on behalf of people who lack capacity to make a decision, does not apply to voting. This means that a lack of mental capacity does not stop someone from being able to vote. It is up to the person to decide if they want to vote.

We have some more information about the Mental Capacity Act here:
https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/legal-financial/dementia-ment…

Hope this is helpful,

Alzheimer's Society blog team

Thank you very much for this information. The night before the election, we wonder how/if Mum can vote. Your info has made it clear she can and how we can help her tomorrow.

My lovely wife has Alzheimer's, the dreaded disease with NO KNOWN CURE. From the waist down, no problems thank goodness but from the neck upwards she is on another planet
I am her POA and her 80 year old, 24 hour a day carer and I feel very strongly about the election especially covering the contents on the literature put through our letter-box. Not one of the three main parties have covered the subject of supporting Dementia and raising money to find a cure. Over 20 /25 years ago there was not a cure for certain types of cancer, but now as a result of research many people are benefiting, Let's all push the incoming government to put more money into finding a cure, it wont save my wife nor my children but might save my grand-children
There has been so much in-fighting and arguments that I along with many people are totally fed up with it. Whilst I agree with the various promises of tackling climate change, more police, building more homes etc by whoever forms the next Government my main priory is to raise as much money as I can to fight this dreadful disease which is cruelly robbing us of our loved ones. Please back me and lobby your MP like I am and will continue to do so
Thank you

What if you know your parent always voted a certain way but that Brexit has changed this but they no longer are of mental capacity to decide?

You can not vote for them if they do not have capacity to tell you their choice regardless of how you presume they would vote or have historically voted.

This information about being able to vote is completely new to me. My partner is now in a care home, and is not registered to vote at our home address.
I had assumed that he would not be able to vote because of having dementia.
It is a huge pity that this email with such important information was not sent out in time to organise alternative registration at his current home. The dates for registration have long passed.
Should the care home have informed/discussed this issue with someone holding POA?