The vote of acute medical inpatients: a prospective study.
J Aging Health. 2009 Aug;21(5):699-712
Authors: Bosquet A, Medjkane A, Voitel-Warneke D, Vinceneux P, Mahé I
OBJECTIVE: There may be ethical issues associated with allowing certain inpatients to vote as some may be cognitively impaired. During the 2007 elections in France, we conducted a prospective observational study on voting among hospitalized patients. METHOD: Patients hospitalized in an Internal Medicine and Geriatric Department on election day were included. The primary outcome was the turnout among registered inpatients, and secondary outcomes were Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores and reasons for abstention. RESULTS: Of 142 inpatients (mean age 73 years), 84 were eligible to vote, and 22 actually voted (turnout 25.2%). Among the voters, 23% had an MMSE score of less than 12; 58% of abstentions were procedure-related. DISCUSSION: In our study, some inpatients did not vote as a result of procedural issues. When patients with severe cognitive impairment vote, there is a potential risk of vote diversion. Voting procedures should be improved to give inpatients easier access to the ballot while protecting them from the risk of fraud.
PMID: 19584412 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]