Voting by Senior Citizens in Long Term Care Facilities
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
This article investigates voting among residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We conducted a survey of Virginia long-term care facilities focused on voting in the 2006 midterm elections. The study reveals, first, that there are systematic differences in the voting experience of senior citizens who reside in nursing homes as compared with assisted living facilities. Second, we find considerable variance in how much attention is given to registration and voting by both types of long-term care facilities and in how much help residents receive to enable them to vote. Third and most important, facility policies and practices designed to facilitate registration and voting appear to increase voter turnout. Finally, it appears that many long-term care facilities may be disenfranchising residents who want to vote by incorrectly assuming that they lack the necessary capacity to do so. Overall, the study suggests that many seniors in long-term care facilities who are eligible to vote do not have a meaningful opportunity to do so.