Specialized Information for:

Long-Term Care ConsumersFamily MembersAdvocates

Voting Rights

Individuals receiving long-term services and supports retain their voting rights no matter where they live or what type of care they receive.

The elder population accounts for a large portion of voters during elections. This population is more likely to vote in prominent elections than their younger counterparts. However, residents of long-term care facilities have a harder time accessing voting locations due to mobility, health, and other issues that inhibit their ability to vote.  

Below are resources to help raise awareness of the issue of residents' rights and guides and information to help long-term care residents vote.

Consumer Voice Resources

Voter ID Requirements by State
This resource shows the current voter identification requirements for individuals by state. It includes the requirements to be met when voting in person as well as what is required when voting via absentee ballot.  Producing a valid identification can be challenging for many residents.  They may not have a current, valid driver’s license or state identification card, and important paperwork, such as a birth certificate, might not be easily accessible. Click on the resource, and call your state’s Board of Elections.

Fact Sheets for Consumers – Print these fact sheets and distribute to nursing home residents, home care consumers, family members, and any other individuals interested in this important information.

Promising Practices for Accessible Voting - A review of successful practices during previous elections, plus tips for practices to incorporate this year.  This fact sheet is geared towards advocates, facilities, volunteers, and ombudsmen.

My Vote Matters Activity Toolkit - It's important to encourage residents' participation in the election and voting process and to engage them in discussions about issues affecting their daily lives or being addressed on the campaign trail. The My Vote Matters Activity Toolkit can be used to get residents thinking and talking about issues important to them.  It encourages them to think about what their platform would be if they were running for President. The My Vote Matters Activity Toolkit was created for the Resident's Voice Challenge, during 2016 Residents' Rights Month.

(Note the following resources are from Residents' Rights Month 2012.  Information is still accurate.)

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National Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) Resources

Involvement of Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Programs in aiding and advocating for voting rights can help residents in long-term care facilities exercise their right to vote. 

Voting in Long-Term Care: The Role of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman
This Technical Assistance Brief for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Practice addresses the issue of voting in long-term care facilities.  Residents in long-term care facilities may encounter challenges as they exercise their right to vote (e.g. ensuring their voter registration is current, transportation to the polls, using an absentee ballot). Additionally, residents may need assistance completing and submitting their ballot.  This brief details ways the ombudsman can support residents in the voting process.

Ombudsmen Voting Briefing
A briefing prepared by the National Ombudsmen Resource Center that discusses the effects of long-term care ombudsmen programs on resident voting in long-term care facilities. The report also lists suggestions on how long-term care ombudsmen programs can become involved in advocating for resident voting in long-term care facilities.

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program Survey
A survey for Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Programs to gauge their level of activity in helping residents in long-term care facilities exercise their right to vote.

More information for ombudsmen is listed on NORC's Voting Issue page.

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Resources for Voters with Disabilities

The American Bar Association's Accommodating Cognitive Impairments in Voting: Shaping Clinically and Ethically Sound Institutional and Public Policy, Reports, fact sheets, and additional resources

Voters with Disabilities, Information from Clark County, Nevada Election Department

Voting for People with Cognitive Impairments and/or Under Guardianship, Information from Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

Voter Assistance Program, Brochure from Washington County, Oregon Elections

People with Mental Disabilities Have the Right to Vote, Fact sheet from the National Disability Rights Network provides individuals with mental disabilities with the specific laws that grant them the right to vote.

Providing Help to Voters with Disabilities: What You Should Know, Fact sheet from the National Disability Rights Network and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law the provides specifics on how people with disabilities can receive assistance voting.

Vote, It's your right. A Guide to the Voting Rights of People with Mental Disabilities (2008), This booklet from the National Disability Rights Network and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law explains the rights of voters with mental disabilities. It can be a resource for people with mental disabilities, advocates, family members, service providers, election officials, state and local mental health and aging authorities, state legislators and others.

ADA Checklist for Polling Places

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Additional Resources

Voting Brochure
A brochure that provides the steps a long-term care resident should take in order to vote as well as what facilities and families can and cannot do to help the process.

Harris County Voting Report
A study prepared for the Texas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program focusing on the comparison of voter participation of residents in long-term care facilities in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections. The study lists problems and recommendations to increase participation in elections.

Harris County Voting Best Practices Guide
Suggestions of how to encourage residents in long-term care settings to vote based on results from a study prepared for the Texas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program about the participation of residents in long-term care facilities in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections.

Harris County Resident Voter Guide
A resource that details the steps that a long-term care resident can take in order to vote including tips and suggestions for voting by mail. It also lists what residents can and cannot do when needing assistance in voting, and what family members and long-term care facility faculty can do to assist the resident.

Communicating and Encouraging the Right to Vote
This resource contains information and tips on how to plan a voter education program at a long-term care facility

The Use of IPads for Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities
 This article reports on the use of iPad tablet notebooks to help nursing home residents vote in a Congressional special primary election. The use of iPad’s proved to be helpful especially in aiding residents with mobility difficulties.

American Bar Association
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging is conducting a project to promote proper access to voting polls including access for those in long-term care facilities. The website has articles and resources by state as well as examples of practices for providing access to polls.

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program and Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities PowerPoint 
A PowerPoint that summarizes the "Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program and Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities report." The report also discusses the involvement levels of state and local Long-Term Care Ombudsmen programs and ways in which the programs helped residences' exercise their right to vote.

Seniors and the 2012 Presidential Election Report
A report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation that discusses the importance of seniors voting in the 2012 presidential election and how health issues are effecting their decision in voting and thoughts on Medicare and Medicaid. The report found that seniors are a large portion of the population that votes and are more likely to vote then the younger population. In terms of healthcare as a voting issue, the report found that aspects Medicare including spending and the changes due to the Affordable Care Act are the most prominent issues.

Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities: The Mobile Polling Project and Clearinghouse
A presentation given at the 2009 Consumer Voice Annual Conference by Charles Sabatino of the American Bar Association that discusses the findings of a study performed at Vermont nursing homes.  The study found that mobile polling was beneficial to residents, facility staff and to elections officials.

Quick Start Management Guide on Elderly and Disabled Voters in Long Term Care Facilities
The Quick Start Management Guide on Elderly and Disabled Voters in Long Term Care Facilities is part of a series of brochures designed to highlight and summarize the information contained in the chapters of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Election Management Guidelines (EMG). Additional voting accessibility issues are explored in current and future EMG publications. The goal of the EMG is to provide a collection of election management guidelines, consolidated into one document, to assist State and local election officials effectively manage and administer elections.  This document is intended for elections officials but provides information that may be helpful to ombudsmen, advocates and facility staff.

Right to Vote: A Voter Education Program
Minnesota Alliance for Helath Care Consumers provides information on how to plan a voter education program, including a workplan for setting up a candidates forum.

Iowa Voter Guide for Residents/Tenants of Long-Term Care Facilities
The guide was designed to speak directly to residents/tenants and provide them with basic information about the various options they have to register and vote from the facility or in-person. The guide also includes a sample Voter Assistance Plan, which is a helpful tool that facilities can use with each resident/tenant to keep track of personal voting preferences, stay on top of dates and deadlines and help ensure nothing "falls through the cracks." 

10 Tips for Voters with Disabilities
These tips from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission examine the options available to help voters with disabilities vote privately and independently.

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