The Alzheimer Society of Ireland: Voting Rights and Demenita

The issue

In the lead up to the 2016 General Election, through its national helpline, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) received a number of queries regarding whether a person’s right to vote can be affected by a diagnosis of dementia.

What PILA did

PILA linked ASI in with Patrick McCann SC who considered a number of questions as to whether legally a person’s right to vote can be restricted as a result of dementia.

The result

The advice found that the presumption is that a person has capacity to vote unless shown otherwise. A person with a diagnosis of dementia does not lose their right to vote, but it may be restricted if at the time of voting that person cannot understand in broad terms the nature and effect of the voting, and is unable to choose between candidates.

The legal advice provided clarity for advocacy and helpline staff within ASI, and was shared through the ASI’s Facebook page which has over 40,000 followers. It will also be used to advise people with dementia and family carers of their rights in advance of future elections.

ASI believes “the Pro Bono Scheme is a fantastic resource for NGOs. The referral process is clear and efficient. The legal opinion provided on this occasion was excellent. Counsel was extremely helpful and had a clear understanding of the organisation’s needs.”

Sustaining Partners