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Voting

The elder population accounts for a large portion of voters during elections. This population is more likely to vote in prominent elections than their younger counterparts. However, residents in long-term care facilities have a harder time accessing voting locations due to mobility, health, and other issues that inhibit their ability to vote. Involvement of Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Programs in aiding and advocating for this issue can help residents' in long-term care facilities exercise their right to vote. Below are resources to help raise awareness of the issue of residents' rights and guides and information to help long-term care residents vote.

Residents' Rights Month


Residents' Rights Month is an annual event designated by the Consumer Voice and is celebrated in October to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, sub acute units, assisted living, board and care and retirement communities. It is a time for celebration and recognition offering an opportunity for every facility to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the value of each individual resident. 

The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2016 is, "My Vote Matters" with the goal of encouraging residents' right to vote and participation in the political process.

2016 Residents' Rights Month Page

The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2012 is, "My Voice, My Vote, My Right." 

2012 Residents' Rights Page

Reports/Resources


Iowa Voter Guide for Residents/Tenants of Long-Term Care Facilities
This guide was designed by the Iowa Ombudsman Program and can be used to speak directly to residents/tenants and provide them with basic information about the various options they have to register and vote from the facility or in-person. 

Iowa Sample Voter Assistance Plan
This helpful tool was designed by the Iowa Ombudsman Program so that facilities can talk with each resident/tenant to keep track of personal voting preferences, stay on top of dates and deadlines and help ensure nothing "falls through the cracks."

Voter ID Requirements by State
This resource shows the current voter identification requirements for individuals by state. It includes the requirements to be met when voting in person as well as what is required when voting via absentee ballot.

Voting in Long-Term Care: The Role of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman
This Technical Assistance Brief for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Practice addresses the issue of voting in long-term care facilities.  Residents in long-term care facilities may encounter challenges as they exercise their right to vote (e.g. ensuring their voter registration is current, transportation to the polls, using an absentee ballot). Additionally, residents may need assistance completing and submitting their ballot.  This brief details the role of the ombudsman in assisting residents with reading the ballot, marking the resident’s vote and/or submitting the resident’s ballot.

Voting Brochure
A brochure that provides the steps a long-term care resident should take in order to vote as well as what facilities and families can and cannot do to help the process.

Harris County Voting Report
A study prepared for the Texas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program focusing on the comparison of voter participation of residents in long-term care facilities in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections. The study lists problems and recommendations to increase participation in elections.

Harris County Voting Best Practices Guide
Suggestions of how to encourage residents in long-term care settings to vote based on results from a study prepared for the Texas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program about the participation of residents in long-term care facilities in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections.

Harris County Resident Voter Guide
A resource that details the steps that a long-term care resident can take in order to vote including tips and suggestions for voting by mail. It also lists what residents can and cannot do when needing assistance in voting, and what family members and long-term care facility faculty can do to assist the resident.

Communicating and Encouraging the Right to Vote
This resource contains information and tips on how to plan a voter education program at a long-term care facility

The Use of IPads for Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities
 This article reports on the use of iPad tablet notebooks to help nursing home residents vote in a Congressional special primary election. The use of iPad’s proved to be helpful especially in aiding residents with mobility difficulties.

American Bar Association
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging is conducting a project to promote proper access to voting polls including access for those in long-term care facilities. The website has articles and resources by state as well as examples of practices for providing access to polls.

Ombudsmen Voting Briefing
A briefing prepared by the National Ombudsmen Resource Center that discusses the effects of long-term care ombudsmen programs on resident voting in long-term care facilities. The report also lists suggestions on how long-term care ombudsmen programs can become involved in advocate for resident voting in long-term care facilities.

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program Survey
A survey for Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Programs to gage their level of activity in helping residents in long-term care facilities exercise their right to vote.

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program and Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities Powerpoint 
A powerpoint that summarizes the "Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program and Voting in Long-Term Care Facilities report." The report also discusses the involvement levels of state and local Long-Term Care Ombudsmen programs and ways in which the programs helped residences' exercise their right to vote.

Seniors and the 2012 Presidential Election Report
A report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation that discusses the importance of seniors voting in the 2012 presidential election and how health issues are effecting their decision in voting and thoughts on Medicare and Medicaid. The report found that seniors are a large portion of the population that votes and are more likely to vote then the younger population. In terms of healthcare as a voting issue, the report found that aspects Medicare including spending and the changes due to the Affordable Care Act are the most prominent issues.

 

Examples of Ombudsman Program and P&A Collaboration Regarding Voting


Brookdale, a senior care company in Oregon, is under investigation after sending its residents a letter urging them to oppose a ballot measure. Measure 97 would increase taxes on companies with more than $25 million in annual sales. The Oregon State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and Disability Rights Oregon notified the Secretary of State that the company may have violated a state law against exerting undue influence over how a person votes. The letter to residents suggested that if the measure was to pass, Brookdale's services could become more expensive. The letter also include a sample "letter to the editor" about how Measure 97 could be bad for seniors and asked residents to send the letter to their local paper. Fred Steele, OR SLTCO, and the Director of the State P&A are quoted. Read the article here.

The South Carolina State Ombudsman participated in the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Voting Coalition and one of the coalition's products is a series of videos about voting (links below). These new voting rights videos are from SC Protection and Advocacy and The South Carolina Disability Voting Coalition.

Each video addresses a different voting topic to include how to register to vote, the different ways a person with a disability can vote, and accessibility challenges that may exist at polling places.

Registration: https://vimeo.com/158411946/cd39097244
Ways to Vote: https://vimeo.com/158471063/78677a7ddc
Accessibility Issues: https://vimeo.com/158440380/6f470dc4f5

The Alaska Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program partnered with AARP, League of Women Voters, Disability Law Center (P&A), and the Alaska Division of Elections to share information about residents’ rights and voting and provide opportunities to residents living in long-term care facilities to participate in the election process. Through this partnership two consumer education brochures were developed, individuals were trained to assist residents with registering to vote, registration events were held in six facilities, and some facilities have incorporated voter registration into their intake process. Additionally, the State Ombudsman sent the brochures and a letter regarding residents’ rights to vote and how facility staff can and cannot assist them with registering to vote and completing a mail-in ballot to all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state.

Information to Share with Consumers


(Iowa) Voter Guide for Residents

Voter ID Requirements by State

Voting Brochure

(Texas) Harris County Voter Registration Guide

(Alaska) How to Vote Brochure

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