5 Things Nursing Home Residents & Their Families Need to Know for the 2020 Election

By AARP NEW YORK | October 27, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. — As early voters stand in lines for hours in the cold to make their voices heard across New York State, it’s important to safeguard the voting rights of those who cannot stand in line or make it to the polls on their own, AARP New York said today. Nursing home residents cannot be the disenfranchised voters of the 2020 election in New York State.

“It’s vital that Governor Cuomo’s administration ensure that that there are no disenfranchised voters left behind in this important election, especially those living in our long-term care facilities,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “The New York State Department of Health must make sure nursing homes have plans in place so that residents can vote safely as the federal government has directed states to do.

Nursing homes are required by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure nursing home residents can exercise their right to vote, whether in-person, by mail, absentee, or other authorized process including a ride to the poll (https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-21-02-nh.pdf).

With early voting already underway and the absentee ballot application deadline today, AARP is highlighting five points that all residents and their families should know during this election season.

1) Nursing home residents have the right to vote, and COVID-19 is NOT a reason your facility can limit your right to vote – period!   What is your nursing home’s plan to ensure residents can exercise their right to vote?

2) The facility must ensure that residents can exercise their rights without interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal from the facility.

3) Nursing homes are required to support residents in the exercising of their right to vote, such as assisting with absentee or mail-in voting, and transporting residents to polling locations or ballot drop-boxes in a safe manner. Today, Tuesday, Oct. 27, is the last day that New Yorkers can apply for an absentee ballot through the mail, online, by email or fax.

4) For residents who are otherwise unable to cast their ballots in person, nursing homes must ensure residents can receive and send their ballots via the U.S. Postal Service.

5) If a resident or their family feels that any of their rights are being violated, call the New York State Attorney General’s Voter Hotline at 1-800-771-7755.


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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.