Can You Still Vote if You Have Dementia?

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Can You Still Vote if You Have Dementia?

With the 2020 presidential election right around the corner, many of us have been inundated with reminders about the importance of voting instructions on how to cast our ballots in this odd election cycle, coming as it is in the midst of a pandemic. For many people, voting represents a civic duty. That’s the case with a 99-year old nursing home resident, Edward Kozlowski.

Although Mr. Kozlowski has dementia and resides in an independent living facility, he was still able to vote using a mail-in ballot. As a recent New York Times article explored, having dementia does not exclude someone from being able to vote, as long as the person expresses an interest in doing so and is able to indicate for whom they want to vote. However, there are some rules that must be observed if you intend to help a loved one complete their ballot.

You can read the ballot to the person if they are unable to read it themselves. And, before the actual voting begins, it is OK to have discussions with them about candidates. However, once the process of completing the ballot starts, you may not provide interpretations or additional information, and may not instruct the person on who they should vote for. Ask them the questions and if they decide to vote, you can indicate their answers on the ballot. They do not need to complete the ballot in one sitting. Another important point is that you must fill in the ballot by casting a vote for whomever the person voting wants to vote for. So, if they want to vote for a long-deceased president, that’s the name you should write in.

In California, voters must be U.S. citizens, residents of California, at least 18 years old, not currently in state or federal prison or on parole after a felony conviction, and not found mentally incompetent to vote by a court. As long as someone meets these minimum requirements, they can cast a valid vote.

To learn where and how to vote, visit the California Secretary of State’s website. If you have any questions on this or about getting your estate plan in order, please reach out to us today