The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission and the New York State Office for Judicial Initiatives is hosting a Raise the Age Summit on Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the College of Law’s Dineen Hall. The program…
‘Coronavirus Isolated Nursing Home Residents. Now It Might Keep Them From Voting.’
Nina Kohn, the David M. Levy L’48 Professor of Law and faculty director of online education in the College of Law, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post titled “Coronavirus isolated nursing home residents. Now it might keep them from voting.”
Professor Kohn is an expert on elder law and has extensively researched the civil rights of older persons. Kohn says that nursing home residents have always faced challenges voting due to “limited mobility, physical infirmity and the restrictive reality of institutional life,” but the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation.
Prior to the pandemic, nursing home residents would often receive help voting from family members or outside voter support groups. But the pandemic has halted all of this, as visitors are barred from facilities and residents are unable to risk infection by leaving to vote in-person.
While older persons have every right to vote, Kohn argues that most states and nursing home facilities are not doing as much as they could, or are legally obligated to do, to support voting efforts during the pandemic. Kohn says to rectify the situation states should facilitate supervised voting in nursing homes and must treat it as essential work.
“Voting is the only remaining source of political power for most nursing home residents. They can’t knock on doors or march; many can’t even mail a letter, send an email or make a telephone call without assistance. And the casual, all-too-tolerated disenfranchisement of nursing home residents sends the message that they are not full citizens worthy of respect,” Kohn says.