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Voting

Older adults account for a large portion of voters during elections. This demographic 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. As advocates, Ombudsman programs support all residents’ right to vote and advocate on behalf of residents to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in the election process.  Below are resources to help raise awareness about residents’ right to vote, information about facility requirements to support residents’ right to vote, and tips for ensuring voting access. 

Consumer Voice Resources


Residents’ Right to Vote and Ombudsman Program Advocacy
This resource provides tips for Ombudsman programs in supporting residents’ right to vote.

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.

Residents' Rights Month - Voting Information

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. The theme in 2012 and 2016 featured information regarding residents’ right to vote.

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

 

Examples of Ombudsman Program and P&A Collaboration Regarding Voting


Rhode Island
Below are materials that are part of the voting resident's rights package that were delivered to all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Rhode Island.  This was a joint project with the Rhode Island Disability Law Center.

South Carolina

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.

Alaska
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.

 

Additional Resources


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.

 

Ombudsman Program Examples


View Ombudsman program examples on voting

 

Information to Share with Consumers


Voter ID Requirements by State


Archive


View archive here

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.

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.

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.

Oregon
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 includes 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.

 

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