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JAMA Network Quotes Professor Nina Kohn on Elders and Voting

Posted on Friday 10/2/2020
Nina Kohn

Helping People With Dementia Exercise Their Right to Vote

(JAMA Network | Sept. 30, 2020) The novel coronavirus pandemic and a US Postal Service slowdown may not be the only hurdles facing people with dementia who want to vote in the 2020 general election.

Nearly 6 million people in the US have some form of the condition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and they represent almost 2.5% of the 253.8 million US residents who are of voting age.

The oldest voters, those aged 60 years or older, are more likely to vote than younger age groups, according to the United States Elections Project; the lion’s share of people with dementia fall into that demographic. While the pandemic is expected to present unprecedented logistical obstacles, especially for those living in nursing homes, having dementia doesn’t revoke a person’s fundamental right to cast a ballot ...

... Some observers have raised concerns that votes cast by people with dementia might actually represent the views of those assisting them, although there’s little evidence of voter fraud in nursing homes, said Nina Kohn, JD, an elder law specialist at the Syracuse University College of Law who studies the civil rights of individuals with diminished cognitive capacity.

“If an individual cannot express a voting preference, then any vote by that person is not really a vote by that person,” Kohn acknowledged. “You can’t vote for somebody else even if you’re extremely confident how that individual would vote" ...

Read the full article.