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 choose to.

No one can be prevented from voting just 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. This does not apply to voting. It is up to the person to decide if they want to vote.

However, there are some barriers that people with dementia may face when the time comes to go to the polls. It may be that someone needs support to vote. For example, being reminded to go to their polling station on the right date and getting to the right place.

Registering to vote as a person with dementia

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 an election (‘polling day’).

Local authorities have a responsibility to make sure that polling stations are accessible. The Electoral Commission provides advice and guidance on the steps they can take to do this. If you do need any assistance, you can ask the staff at your polling station. 

A person with dementia has the option of bringing along a companion to assist them to vote in person. The companion must be a close relative (spouse, civil partner, son or daughter).

You should ask the permission of the Presiding Officer at the polling station if you want to be assisted by a companion. 

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 know and 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 pack 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: 

  1. The person you have appointed as your proxy will need to go to your polling station to cast your vote.
  2. They will then vote on your behalf, but in doing so they must vote the way you have instructed them too. 
  3. They will receive a proxy poll card telling them where and when to cast your vote for you.

It’s 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. 

Make sure you are registered to vote: 

To take part in future local elections you must be registered to vote. This is a quick process.

Find out more and register to vote.

Postal and proxy voting: 

Find out more about voting options and registration deadlines.

--

This post was updated in May 2022

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
Think this page could be useful to someone? Share it:

40 comments

Add a comment

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?

Hi, can someone with lasting power if attorney apply for a postal vote on behalf of the voter? Thanks.

Hi Jason, thanks for your comment, and you're right to point out that the guidance isn't completely clear on this.

There is this guidance from the Electoral Commission (https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf_file/IER…) which, while stressing that someone who is an LPA attorney can’t actually vote on behalf of the person, does indicate that an attorney with an appropriate LPA can make the application to register for a vote on the person’s behalf (see paragraphs 1.13-1.18 headed “What someone with a power of attorney can and can’t do on behalf of an applicant“).

This appears to relate to the application to register to vote rather than an application for a postal vote though you might think that logically the same thought process would apply i.e. this is about administration rather than actually voting on the person’s behalf, but check with your electoral registration office. The person will need to sign the actual postal vote form and another form that comes with it and there may be a need to apply for a signature waiver if the person has difficulty signing. Discuss that with your electoral registration office too.

Hope this helps,
--
Alzheimer's Society blog team

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.