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Guest Blog - Elections and Long-Term Care

Voting Rights in Long-Term Care Facilities

by Kathleen Heren, Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman

Kathleen Heren

Election season is quickly approaching. Long-term care facilities must work with residents to ensure they are able to vote. The offices of The Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman, Disability Rights Rhode Island, and Rhode Island Board of Elections held a training session last month for staff at Rhode Island nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Why train?

Covid has caused a large turnover in staffing, some retired and others for varied reasons. With the influx of inexperienced staff, it is critical they understand their responsibility in securing their residents’ voting rights.

Just because someone resides in a facility does not mean they lose their right to vote. There are many misconceptions that surround the responsibility of the facility. This was an ideal training session to correct those misconceptions. Some areas which were covered in the training session pertain to new voting accommodations which can assist the resident with voting, how mental health issues can affect voting rights, and finally mail ballot voting - including emergency mail ballot applications.

Long-term care voting rights (ABC News)

I encourage families or responsible parties to communicate with the staff in their loved one’s facility about voting rights. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to speak up if you feel as though your loved one is being denied the right to vote.

In closing, many residents in long-term care facilities are the same people who fought in wars so we could preserve our right to vote. It would be a shame to have them miss voting because of staff not being familiar with assisting them. In these troubled times, our votes become even more precious. Whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents we have the right to vote. Please contact our office with any questions. New Information will be on our website as it becomes available.


You can also call Disability Rights Rhode Island at 401-831-3150 and the Rhode Island Board of Elections at 401-222-1904 if you have questions on voting rights.


My office is available to help you with any concerns you may have. Our number is (401) 785-3340, Toll-free (888) 351-0808. I can also be reached by e-mail: kheren@alliancebltc.org


Kathleen Heren

Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman

Office of the RI State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

Alliance for Better Long Term Care Inc

422 Post Road Suite 204

Warwick, RI 02888

401-785-3340

 

Ms. Heren provides a monthly guest blog to Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. in which she discusses issues and topics that come across her desk as the Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman. The opinions expressed in our guest blogs are those of the author(s) only. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. or its employees.


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