top of page

Dementia and Voting

This month, local elections are taking place across the country, but for people with hidden disabilities such as dementia, it can feel like a daunting prospect.


Everyone with dementia in the UK has a right to vote, no matter what stage in the dementia journey they are at. People with dementia can vote in person and can be accompanied by a relative into the polling booth, should they need it. (The accompanying person will need to ensure that the relevant forms are completed to do this). There is also the option of a postal vote for anyone who is unable to make it to the polling station.


The aspects of the voting process which can make things more difficult for people living with dementia might include the following:

  • Remembering the day in which the election is taking place and where to go to vote

  • Getting to the polling station

  • Navigating the process of voting (for this reason they can be accompanied by a close relative)

  • Locating photographic ID to take to the polling station (this is now a requirement in order to vote).


Local authorities have an obligation to ensure that polling stations are as accessible as possible. So, if you are living with dementia, or are caring for a loved one who has dementia, you’ll be pleased to know that support is available and there are ways to make the process as manageable as possible.


Helping someone living with dementia to vote

If you are accompanying someone who is living with dementia, on arrival at the Polling Station scanning in point, ask the Clerk if you can have a word with the Presiding Officer. You can then explain that you need to accompany your family member who has a dementia diagnosis and ask that the necessary form be prepared. There should also be a lower booth available for those in a wheelchair.


There is a slightly different procedure if the voter is also blind or partially sighted. The Presiding Officer then reads out list of candidates on the voting form for the voter to make a choice. The Presiding Officer HAS to read them all out and cannot enter into conversation about the candidates.


If the Presiding Officer is busy, then the Clerks are normally trained to deal with this as well.

If you are concerned about how your loved one who is living with dementia may cope in the busy environment of a polling station, it may also be a good idea to choose a time which is least likely to be a peak time, so there is no rush and crush of people. This could, for example, be the middle of the day, when many people are at work.


As the local elections are often quieter than the General Election, which is likely to be taking place later this year, it may well be an opportunity to have a trial run of the process. The key is to try and keep the environment as calm as possible and the team of volunteers at the polling station should be able to support you with this.


Remember, if you are a person who is living with dementia, even if the voting venue is somewhere you frequent regularly it will seem very different because of the polling booths set up in the room. It’s better to ask someone for help to vote if you are going alone and finding the process tricky. Your vote counts.


How polling station staff can help someone with dementia to vote

Polling station staff can help to support people with disabilities to vote, by ensuring the following approach:

  • Consider the needs of the person, not just the specific disability

  • Clearly communicate in person the process for voting if it is asked for

  • Communicate that assistance is available if required

  • Ensure people are fully able to use any equipment provided

  • Ensure voters are aware they can request a companion if required


Please help us with your feedback!

If you are someone who is living with dementia, or caring for someone who has dementia, then we would be really interested to hear how you found the whole experience of voting in the local elections.


Can you email us and tell us if it went smoothly or if you encountered any issues when you went to vote? Please email info@dementiasupport.org.uk and put your email for the attention of our Education and Learning Development Lead, Jacquie Pond. We will then pass your feedback (anonymously) to the election teams so that preparations can be made to improve the process of the 2024 general election.


Get help and advice

If you need help, advice and support in navigating the dementia journey, then our Wayfinding team is available to assist you with any matter to do with living with dementia. Get in touch with a member of the team today on 01243 888691, email info@dementiasupport.org.uk or fill in our online contact form.


Comments


bottom of page