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HORIZON BLOG

Should Dad Vote?

Question

With the upcoming election heating up, we kids are wondering if we should allow our Dad to vote. Dad is 90 years old and he carries the diagnosis of dementia.  

We kids do not think we should take him to vote because he barely can read anymore and some days, he does not even recognize his children. It seems silly to us to take him to a polling booth or even to request an absentee ballot so that he can vote from home.

Should we tell him that we are not going to take him on Election Day?

 

Answer

Since your father is at least 21 and I assume a United States resident he is allowed to vote by Federal Law.  Many States though, have additional laws. In Wisconsin a felon serving any portion of a sentence cannot vote; someone deemed incapable by a judge cannot vote; and someone betting on the election results may not vote, as examples. Therefore, it is best to check your State laws.

For purposes of this discussion, I will assume that your father meets the requirements for voting, and you just do not think he should be at this point in his life because of his dementia. The only person that can prevent him from voting is a judge in a court of law. 

Your father would need to be declared incompetent with voting rights withdrawn.

For reasons other than voting it is important to have or get documents in order that gives someone the authority to manage his care and finances. Since he is already at the stage of not remembering key individuals consistently, someone is already managing for him. Hopefully his care was handled with someone appointed as a Power of Attorney. Voting is more specific though and can vary from State to State. Unless a judge specifically states that a person may not vote, the right is retained.  It is important that you carefully review the laws of the State he lives in.  

Now to the question at hand, should Dad vote. People with dementia have good days and not so good days.  If on Election Day Dad is determined to vote and can reasonably participate in the process, I cannot not see preventing him from doing so. If on Election Day he does not know what day it is or who is running, you may wish to just let the day pass. If he brings it up later, tell him that he was not up to it that day. That way you are honoring his wishes and intent yet handling the day reasonably.  

Most of us will get to the point in our lives where we cannot handle all our affairs. We should though, be granted the right to do what we are still able to do.  

If your father wants to vote and has not been barred from doing so legally, he should be allowed to. 

 

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