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Voting Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities

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

However, residents of long-term care facilities have a harder time voting due to mobility, health, and other issues that inhibit their ability to vote. 

Federal regulations guarantee residents’ rights, including their rights as citizens, which includes the right to vote:

- §483.10(b) Exercise of Rights.  The resident has the right to exercise his or her rights as a resident of the facility and as a citizen or ​resident of the United States.
               - §483.10(b)(1) The facility must ensure that the resident can exercise his or her rights without interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal from the facility.
               - ​§483.10(b)(2) The resident has the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility in exercising his or her rights and to be supported by the facility in the exercise of his or her rights as required under this subpart.

Long-Term Care Facilities Must Work with Their Residents to Ensure They Are Able to Vote   

Long-term care facilities must "have a plan to ensure residents can exercise their right to vote, whether in-person, by mail, absentee or other authorized process," according to 2020 guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services "affirming the continued right of nursing home residents to exercise their right to vote."

Facilities can support residents' right to vote by:

  • Coordinating with their states to take advantage of existing programs to help residents to vote. This includes, mobile polling, and assistance in registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, or completing a ballot from an agent of the Resident's choosing, including family representative, LTC Ombudsman or nursing home staff. 
  • Transporting individuals to polling places.
  • Providing access to stationery, postage, writing implements, and the ability to send mail. 
  • Helping residents promptly send and receive mail. 

A long-term care facility must not interfere with a resident exercising his or her right vote, nor may a facility coerce a resident during the voting process. 

Government guidance on voting applies to residents of long-term care facilities, and requires facilities to make accommodations to support residents in voting. Consumer Voice calls on all long-term facilities to immediately adopt practices that ensure all residents are able to vote and recommends

  • Requiring facilities to help any resident to vote who expresses a desire to vote, and ensure staff does not make their own determinations about who is eligible to vote.
  • Requiring facilities to help resident’s register to vote, obtain ballots, and assist residents with filling out ballots and returning them.   Facilities should provide stamps and envelopes to residents to return ballots.
  • Permitting residents to designate a person to help them to vote, and facilitating meetings with the designated person in the facility and in a manner that follows infection control guidelines.

Resources for Consumers

Residents' Voices

"We didn't check our will, our dignity, our rights at the door when we checked into these nursing homes, and people keep forgetting that." - Maurice, a nursing home resident