Resident Rights – Voting

COVID-19; Programs and Resources

On October 5, CMS issued a memo​ regarding compliance with residents’ rights requirement related to nursing home residents’ right to vote. The memo is effective immediately and outlines the regulatory requirements providers are required affirm and support the right of residents to vote. The right to vote must not be impeded in any way by a nursing home and its staff. Providers should have a plan to ensure residents can exercise their right to vote. 

Whether or not external assistance is available to come into the facility, supporting a resident to vote may include assisting with absentee or mail-in voting, or transporting residents to polling locations or ballot drop-boxes in a safe manner. See AHCA’s resources on Helping Residents Vote in 2020 for more information.  

Physical distancing, masks, and other infection control precautions should still be maintained if a facility chooses to transport a small number of residents at a time (depending on the size of the vehicle). For residents who are otherwise unable to cast their ballots in person or prefer to vote by mail or absentee, nursing homes must ensure residents have the right to receive and send their ballots via the U.S. Postal Service, or other authorized mechanism allowed by the state or locality. If a state has specific programs to enable nursing home residents to vote, the facility should coordinate and engage with those programs, as appropriate. 

Additional information is available from the HHS Administration for Community Living related to voting rights and resources, as well as contact information for the long term care ombudsmen resource center here.​