Government guidance on outdoor visits for care homes means care home residents will be unable to vote in the coming May elections, the National Care Forum (NCF) has said.
The NCF said the latest government guidance, which requires residents to isolate for 14 days on their return from outdoor visits, will effectively bar them from voting in the coming elections.
Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF), said: “The whole experience of voting for the majority of people living in care homes will have been in person, often for many years at the same polling station, going through the motions in a way that is both familiar and a connection to wider society. Getting the vote is a rite of passage. Losing the right to vote in person is a national scandal.”
While acknowledging that residents could register for a postal vote, the NCF argued that should have been their choice and not because other methods of voting had been removed by the government.
Vic added: “As soon as it became apparent that everyone would not be able to share full access to the voting options, then the elections should have been paused, or we should have found a way where the opportunities for all to vote were equalised.
“This could have been achieved by introducing postal voting for all, or if that was not possible, then having a concerted targeted deliberate campaign that ensured that each and every individual effectively barred from voting in person on the day, was made fully aware of the options available to them for post and proxy and enabled to exercise their choices in a meaningful way.
“There has not been additional support provided to care homes to make sure that those constituents, many of whom will have very strong political opinions, are enabled to vote. In fact, it would seem that there has not even been a recognition that the latest guidance on visiting out from care homes takes the decision to vote in person firmly out of the hands of care home residents.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Any visit in or out of a care home brings some risk of infection and our priority must always be to manage to transmission and keep vulnerable residents safe.
“Everyone who is eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so in these elections. People can apply for a postal vote by 20 April or a proxy vote by 27 April.”