This study explores knowledge and uptake of the voting rights of adult in-patients in the 2010 UK general election. A clinician-completed survey was used.
Eligible to vote psychiatric adult in-patients were half as likely to register as the general population and half as likely to vote if registered. Nine out of ten of those unregistered cited a lack of knowledge of their eligibility to vote or of the registration process. Long-stay patients were particularly disenfranchised.
Many patients and staff remain unaware of the new rules which have given a greater proportion of in-patients the right to vote and have simplified the registration and voting processes. This information barrier may be addressed in future elections by providing timely written information to both patients and staff. Once registered, patients may need further support to overcome practical and psychological barriers, and cast their vote.
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