ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOV/WCMH) — Voter outreach to senior living facilities is an important part of getting elderly individuals to vote, but one Missouri family is concerned after a family member with Alzheimer’s cast her ballot.
“She has no clue who the political figures are,” said Dale Ware of her mother-in-law Lioba Weir. Lioba suffers from Alzheimer’s, leading to trouble identifying family members let alone political candidates, which concerns Dale and her husband. The 90-year-old cast a ballot at the senior care facility where she has assistance around the clock.
“She was wearing an ‘I Voted’ button and he asked and they said, ‘Oh yes, she voted today,’” Dale Ware told KMOV. The center only accepts patients who have dementia and Dale Ware says her mother-in-law wasn’t the only one who voted. “Three other people in the area had on the ‘I Voted’ stickers. You can’t live in this facility if you don’t have a dementia diagnosis.”
Dale Ware worries that her mother-in-law might not have the mental capacity to make informed decisions about who she is voting for.
“When someone doesn’t know what’s going on, I’m really concerned they should not be voting,” Dale Ware said. Ware’s family also said that Lioba couldn’t remember who she voted for or even casting the ballot in the first place.
Eric Fey, the Democratic Director of Elections in St. Louis County, says the people who visit the care facilities to get people to vote cannot decide if an elderly patient can vote or not based on their mental state.
“We’re not doctors or physicians or anything like that,” Fey said. “No, we can’t make any determination of someone’s mental capacity.”
Fey and his counterpart, Republican Director of Elections for St. Louis County Christian Tolbert, says the law requires bipartisan teams to visit nursing homes when at least 10 absentee ballots are requested.
“What folks need to remember when we go to a facility like this and have people vote, there is a bipartisan team: one Democrat and one Republican from our office,” Fey said.
Fey also added that the only time the board of elections can stop someone from voting is if a judge declares them incapacitated. More than 500 people in St. Louis County have been deemed incapacitated, but Lioba Ware is not on that list.