Should person who has lost capacity vote?

Discussion in 'I have a partner with dementia' started by Wifenotcarer, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Wifenotcarer

    Wifenotcarer Registered User

    Mar 11, 2018
    255
    Central Scotland
    OH and I have been members of a political party since we were in our 20s. Both of us have donated to, campaigned and voted for that party ever since.

    Our Constituency is now choosing a candidate to represent the party in the forthcoming (or not?) General Election and all party members have received voting papers to select our choice from the 4 candidates who are seeking to be chosen to fight for the local seat. I have already voted on-line and can vote on OH's behalf in the same way. I know exactly how he would vote as my 1st choice candidate is a personal friend, all round good egg, and lives locally. However OH would not recognise him if they met now - he sometimes has no clue who I am!!

    So there is the moral dilemma - I have always done the on-line voting for OH under his supervision as he was never computer savvy. Do I have the right as his POA to vote on his behalf in this internal party contest and later in a local or general election? Does a person with advanced Dementia, who is deemed to have lost capacity, retain the right to vote?
     
  2. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    95
    There is no change in the PWD’s right to vote even if capacity has been lost.

    My brother is heavily involved in politics and has been the Leader of the council of a London Borough and is now Leader of the District Council in the county in which he now lives. Also a member of the party he represents. My parents both always voted for that same party all their lives. He registered Mum for a proxy vote in the European elections but ultimately decided against using it as we live in a constituency in which that political party has such a majority that one vote would make no difference. She won’t ‘vote’ again as neither my brother nor I are sure how she would vote now if she had capacity (I have changed my own position for example). That is entirely a personal choice, however; if you definitively know how your husband would have voted then I can’t see an ethical issue in doing so.
     
  3. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    In Australia, it is compulsory to vote in any election from local councils to state and federal elections. You are fined if you do not have a very good reason for not participating in an election.

    However, one of the reasons that is acceptable for people not to vote is lack of capacity. I think that ethically if the person does not have capacity then it is wrong for anyone else to 'vote' on their behalf. I think that a vote belongs to that person and no one has the right to assume that they think they know how that person would want to vote. The vote is not yours to use how you want.

    The fact that you are trying to justify your using the vote suggests to me that you feel in your heart that it is not quite the right thing to do.
     
  4. DennyD

    DennyD Registered User

    I agree with Lawson, that I could not justify ethically to vote on my husband's behalf when he no longer has capacity. I may think to know how he would vote but, or for that matter think to know what decision he would make on any matter, simply because he is no longer able to substantiate his decision, it is not up to me to make that presumption even with POA.
     
  5. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    1,427
    Male
    Cornwall
    The thing is with a postal vote you don’t know who actually Voted :rolleyes: :D for instance when my voting paper come because I have Dementia :) it say’s No Signature Required, it also says you can go online and Vote using the Reference Number o_O So anyone that has access to my ballot paper could be replying ;) on my behalf , :( that's why Postal Balloting should be regulated
     
  6. jenniferjean

    jenniferjean Registered User

    Apr 2, 2016
    535
    Female
    Basingstoke, Hampshire
    I've often wondered about this. My husband does not have capacity but so far that hasn't been a problem. I strongly believe that dementia or not I will not take away his right to vote. But as I said that hasn't been a problem. I just ask him at the time if he wants to go and vote and he says no, he says they're all a bunch of idiots. I don't argue with that.
     
  7. northumbrian_k

    northumbrian_k Registered User

    Mar 2, 2017
    861
    Male
    Newcastle
    The right to vote remains unaltered but the wish to do so may diminish or no longer be properly understood. Even if I thought that I knew which may my wife would want to vote I would not do this on her behalf without her knowledge. As with all things in dementia, the way a person might vote if they could may not reflect the way they have voted in the past.

    I didn't know that my wife - a lifelong drinker of black coffee - now likes tea with milk and sugar so can't pretend to 'know' how she would vote. I'll champion her right to vote but will not presume which way as this might change in a flash. There ought to be no dilemma here: you should not vote for him unless he has given you clear and specific instructions to do so.
     
  8. jenniferjean

    jenniferjean Registered User

    Apr 2, 2016
    535
    Female
    Basingstoke, Hampshire
    My thoughts exactly, but you put better than I can.
     
  9. Wifenotcarer

    Wifenotcarer Registered User

    Mar 11, 2018
    255
    Central Scotland
    So! I took along the voting papers when I went to visit OH in the Care Home at the back of T Time. I told him that he was entitled to a vote but didn't have to vote if he was unsure or confused. He replied that he ALWAYS voted, he wanted to vote and would vote the same as me as he always did. I asked if he knew who I had voted for and he said "Yes the local lad, always best to vote for someone local".

    SO! Oh wise ones - is that sufficient to give me the right to send his vote in?
     
  10. Quizbunny

    Quizbunny Registered User

    Nov 20, 2011
    94

    I would say that it is entirely right to submit his ballot under the circumstances you have described.
     
  11. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    95
    As I said above, if you definitively know how your husband would vote, then I see no issue. It would appear that you do. We went the other way because Mum cannot articulate her viewpoint. I’m glad to know that your husband can still be represented in an area that meant so much to him throughout his life.
     
  12. Roseleigh

    Roseleigh Registered User

    Dec 26, 2016
    273
    Bear in mind any individual vote is not going to alter the result so why analyze the ethics of it too much?;)
     
  13. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    In a recent election, the winning margin in one electorate was 13 votes. Every vote does count and it would have only taken a few people to vote in another way for the result to have been different.

    I value my right to vote and and consider that if we give up on the ethics of our responsibilities of our democratic system, then we deserve what we get.
     
  14. jenniferjean

    jenniferjean Registered User

    Apr 2, 2016
    535
    Female
    Basingstoke, Hampshire
    Of course one vote won't alter the result, but the point is whether someone who hasn't capacity should vote. And my answer to that is that if they want to vote they should be allowed to. It's their right.
     
  15. Jaded'n'faded

    Jaded'n'faded Registered User

    Jan 23, 2019
    520
    Female
    High Peak
    It's a difficult one and I could argue the case both ways. But mostly I agree with @northumbrian_k
    Unless your husband is fully aware of the current political situation and asks you to place his vote, then I wouldn't.

    So I'll ask a question: when asked, your husband responded as you expected and confirmed his voting intentions were the same as yours. That has made you confident he knows his own mind. But... what if he'd turned round and said, 'No - I want to vote for the other side this time!' Or, 'No! They're a bunch of old duffers - let's vote Monster Raving Loony this time!' Would you have been equally certain he knew what he was doing and would you still place that vote for him?

    We're in a difficult political situation right now, not least due to people - without dementia - not understanding the consequences of their actions. (On BOTH sides!) If I asked my mum about voting, she would say much the same as your husband - that she has always voted XXX and would continue to do so whatever happened, on principle I suppose. Would it be an informed vote? No. She knows nothing of Brexit for a start. So I think it would be wrong. She is not of 'our world' anymore - nothing she says or does is based in reality. (Well, not my reality anyway.)

    Having said that... we all know people who are ill-informed, ignorant or just plain stupid, people we consider should probably not be allowed the privilege of a vote. Yet they do....
     
  16. northumbrian_k

    northumbrian_k Registered User

    Mar 2, 2017
    861
    Male
    Newcastle
    I did imply that if he has given you clear and specific instructions then you may wish to follow them even if, immediately afterwards, he might not remember what those instructions were. If you truly believe that it matters to him and you can answer @Jaded'n'faded's question then it is your choice whether to vote as his proxy or not.
     
  17. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,861
    Female
    @Wifenotcarer I can see why you are torn on this, as your husband seemed to give a coherent answer. Is he still registered at your home address, or have you registered him at the care home?

    But it isn't one vote is it - if everyone who cares for a PWD did this it would be a large number of votes. In the last GE our constituency was won by about 300 votes, and the population of the local dementia care homes is more than 300....

    Re the original question, I wouldn't proxy vote because I wouldn't assume I knew what my PWD (my mother) wanted. When I visited her recently she has variously thought I was her mother or her sister (she doesn't have a sister) so I wouldn't consider her able to make a coherent voting decision.
     
  18. Alzheimer's Society

    Alzheimer's Society Volunteer Moderator

    Hi everyone,

    We came across this discussion over the weekend and have asked our Knowledge Team to outline the legal position on voting and capacity.

    The Mental Capacity Act 2005 Section 29 is explicit in that no one, not even someone acting as an attorney, is automatically able to vote for someone else.

    Proxy voting enables someone to fulfil another person’s vote but they must take instruction from that person on how they wish to vote. If a person no longer has capacity and is therefore unable to give instruction on how they wish to vote, then proxy voting cannot be carried out.

    The law and rules on voting is that someone cannot be stopped from voting due to lacking capacity, which enables a person to vote for as long as they wish to. However, it doesn’t mean an attorney or loved one can say the person lacking capacity still has a right to vote and as a result, make a voting decision on their behalf. It is important to note that electoral fraud - where someone votes for someone else, (excluding voting as a proxy under instruction or assisting/helping someone) - is a criminal offence.

    The link below has more information on the subject:
    https://crimestoppers-uk.org/campaigns-media/blog/2019/mar/your-vote-is-yours-and-yours-alone

    We hope this helps and clears up some questions about mental capacity and voting. If anyone has any further questions on this topic, please feel free to email us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk :)
     
  19. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,861
    Female
    Thank you for the clarification, good to know.
     
  20. Wifenotcarer

    Wifenotcarer Registered User

    Mar 11, 2018
    255
    Central Scotland
    I would like to clarify that the vote in my OP was not for a general or local election, nor a referendum. It was an internal party vote to choose which of four potential candidates should be selected as our party's representative in the next general election. However the thread has broadened to talk about all elections and certainly given me food for thought.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.