Dementia doesn’t change your right to vote on June 8

With a general election just around the corner, it’s a good time to remember that people with dementia have the same right to vote as everyone else.

Dementia and general election 2017

The right to vote

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

However, the deadline to register is fast approaching and you must register to vote by 11.59pm on Monday 22 May.

Dementia and voting

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.

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. Councils have a responsibility to make sure that polling stations are accessible so if you do need any assistance, you can ask the staff at the polling station.

Voting by proxy

It’s important to note that if you have made a Lasting Power of Attorney, your attorney cannot vote on your behalf.

But, anyone can appoint someone else to vote on their behalf. This is called voting by proxy and the deadline for appointing a proxy is 5pm on Wednesday 31 May. Your proxy does not make a decision about who to vote for – they just fulfil your wishes. Although you don’t need mental capacity to vote, you do need mental capacity to appoint a proxy.

The right to vote is not taken away by dementia. The General Election on June 8 is a chance to have your say, and there is plenty of support available to make sure that you can. Just make sure you register before it’s too late!

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The right to vote is not taken away by dementia.

The General Election on June 8 is a chance to have your say, and there is plenty of support available to make sure that you can. Just make sure you register before it’s too late!

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6 comments

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As a person with dementia, I know that my capacity to make rational decisions is reducing. I will have stop driving at some point, or risk harming myself or others. Similarly, there will be a time when we can't form an opinion about government, and just want to be left in peace. Everyone should have the chance to vote, but should not have it forced upon them.

Does the above mean that someone who has Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be made a Proxy voter?

Hi Sue, providing the person with dementia has capacity to appoint a proxy there is nothing to prevent them appointing someone who also happens to have Lasting Power of Attorney. The only criteria for the proxy is that the nominated person is registered to vote and is also allowed to vote in the same type of election.

Hope this clears it up, and if you need any other support or guidance please feel free to contact our National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or email the team on [email protected]

I look after elderly people living with Dementia and have documents stating they have no mental capacity and they receive voting paper work. Where do we stand with this when the 'voting by proxy' says the person living with dementia can be assisted to vote by proxy only if they have Mental Capacity to appoint a proxy.

Hello I am the appointee for my mother. No power of attorney as did not have mental capacity to do so no estate etc Any mail for her is not being passed on to me at the home she is in. One of which was her voting form which I have been given some months later. They had filled the form in for her for postal vote to be set up.(but not sent in I think As I now have). As her appointee it should be myself who dealt with this and has her proxy? As she does not have the mental capacity to do so. As surely this could be giving a vote to candidate's that she would not of been her choice. And they are voting for who they want. Hence me as appointee should be the one to act on this for her. If at all! Advice would be very helpful. Thankyou.

Hi Mrs Norman, thanks for your comment.

When it comes to voting only the person themselves can choose who they wish to vote for. Some people choose to nominate someone to act as their proxy – but this is to enable someone to fulfil their wishes and complete the voting form on their behalf and vote how they wish, the proxy MUST follow the persons wishes and vote how the person wants. A proxy under voting is someone that is appointed to only assist with voting and not anything else and the person should have asked for them to be their proxy. As an appointee for your mother you have the power to manage your mother’s benefits, and I’m afraid this is as far as the power stretches and so does not give you the right to vote on her behalf. If you wish to be your mother’s proxy your mother would need to complete the proxy application form.

A care home cannot vote on a residents behalf, instead many set up postal voting for their residents and will support the resident in voting. Legally no one can place a vote on another’s behalf, instead the system, including proxy voting is about supporting and assisting someone to be able to make their own vote, so I hope this reassures you to know that legally they shouldn’t be voting themselves using your mother’s vote. I would suggest that you speak with the care home about how they handle voting and what support they offer. From what you have said I gather your mother is set up for a postal vote, so maybe ask about being there to support her with completing it next time there is an election or a referendum, or checking with them about what they do to help her to vote.

Hope this is helpful, and do let us know if you have any more questions.

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