The right to vote is an important part of being a citizen. It’s a legally-protected human right, and a diagnosis of dementia makes no difference to that.
People with dementia retain the right to vote, wherever they live, including if they are temporarily staying somewhere that isn’t their usual residence. What matters is being able to clearly express a vote choice.
Registering to vote, and then voting, are simple processes and help is readily available for people who need it.
Everyone should make sure they are registered to vote – including if you live in a care home, or have a friend or relative who does.
One person in the household can register everyone who lives there – and a care home manager can register all the residents.
If you move house and want to make sure you are registered to vote before the next annual canvass, you can contact your electoral registration office.
The right to vote is a legally-protected human right, and a diagnosis of dementia makes no difference to that
While you need to be able to clearly express how you want to vote, help is available for the actual voting process. For postal votes, you can ask for the requirement for a signature on the form to be waived if that causes you difficulty. If you want to vote at the polling station, you can ask for help to mark the ballot paper if you need it. Or you can appoint a proxy – somebody to vote on your behalf – who must always carry out your instructions.
You cannot fill in a ballot paper for someone else unless you are their appointed proxy. Being their paid or unpaid carer, or having power of attorney, does not entitle you to vote on someone’s behalf.
The general route to advice about the practicalities of voting is through your local electoral registration office. They should be helpful and knowledgeable.
The most important thing to remember is that a person has the right to vote and to make up their own mind about how they do that. Voting is a fundamental way in which we participate as citizens in society. It’s an equal right, whether you have a diagnosis of dementia or not, and it’s important that everyone is supported to use their vote.
Amy Dalrymple is head of policy for Alzheimer Scotland.
This is part of a series of TFN articles that focus on the #Missingmillion people who are not intending to vote in the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September.