I wonder which candidate will win the nursing home vote.
Have you ever wondered how many nursing home voters there are? In 2010, the Kaiser Foundation found that 91,717 individuals were residents in Texas nursing homes.
Do you wonder if nursing home residents are exploited for their votes? Section 11.002 of the Texas Election Code defines “qualified voter” as a person who has not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be: (A) totally mentally incapacitated; or (B) partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.
There is a published court case in Texas that reported a finding of voting exploitation of an incapacitated person. In Des Champ v. Featherston, the Court found that One (1) person who voted in the election was ineligible to vote because he had been finally adjudged to be mentally incompetent.
The Texas Election Code only excludes people who have been judicially declared to be incapacitated. So, if you haven’t been judicially declared to be incapacitated, feel free to exercise your God-given right to vote! I just hope you get a ride to the polls from a person of the right political persuasion.
You may see someone at your polling place helping a disabled person into the voting booth. The Texas Secretary of State prohibits voters from assistance by: Their employer; An agent of their employer; or An officer or agent of their union. Any individual may assist a nursing home resident to the voting booth as long as the person helping the nursing home resident vote is not his employer or union officer. Polling place officials and poll watchers and election inspectors are not the only people allowed to assist. If the voter asks for assistance from someone other than a polling place official, poll watcher, or election inspector, no one else may watch. It is illegal for the nursing home resident voting assistant to: “Try to influence the voter’s vote; Mark the voter’s ballot in a way other than the way they have asked; or Tell anyone how the voter voted.”
Nursing home residents are not required to venture out to their polling place. They may, instead, receive their ballot in the mail. “If a voter will be 65 years of age or older on Election Day, has a disability, or will be outside the county during early voting hours and on Election Day, the voter can apply to vote by mail. Simply submit a completed and signed Application for a Ballot by Mail any time from the 60th to the 7th day before Election Day to the proper county early voting clerk.” I just hope the nursing home resident gets to open this important piece of mail!
If the nursing home resident intends to return to his or her homestead, the resident’s agent under Durable Power of Attorney should be checking the mail. Stay tuned for additional laws that affect voting by nursing home residents.
“The Kaiser Family Foundation, statehealthfacts.org. Data Source: C. Harrington, H. Carrillo, M. Dowdell, P. Tang, and B. Blank. Table 4, “Nursing, Facilities, Staffing, Residents, and Facility Deficiencies, 2005 Through 2010,” Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, accessed January 2012. Available at http://www.pascenter.org. Based on the Online Survey, Certification, and Reporting system (OSCAR), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”
Tex. Elec. Code Section 11.002 (Lexis 2012).
Des Champ v. Featherston, 886 S.W.2d 536 (Tex. App. Austin 1994).
Texas Secretary of State, http://www.votetexas.gov/voters-with-special-needs/ (2012).