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UPDATED: Have your say in the General Election on 12 December 2019

04 November 2019

CNWL is relaunching its campaign to encourage mental health patients /service users to register to vote and get their voice heard in the forthcoming General Election. (12 December 2019).

The last day to register to vote is:

  • In person on 26 November 2019 by 11.59pm
  • By post on 26 November 2019 by 5pm 
  • By proxy on 4 December by 5pm

Why is it important we support patients to register and cast their vote?

Mental health patients, including most of those detained under the Mental Health Act, have the same right to vote as the general population. However, they remain one of the most disenfranchised groups in society. A lack of information and understanding of their eligibility to vote or of the registration process led to voting turnout being as low as 14% in 2010 - a quarter of the turnout of the general population.

Social inclusion, tackling stigma, and empowerment are important principles for recovery from mental illness and ensuring patients are aware of their voting rights and are supported to participate in the democratic process is a powerful message to society as a whole that the opinion of those living with mental illness is of equal value to that of other members of our community.

A film to increase awareness of the voting rights of mental health patients is available on the CNWL website. The film coproduced with CNWL patients and staff helps explains why it is important for patients to be offered support to register and to cast their vote if they wish to do so and highlights the need for advice to be made available to staff and patients about who can and cannot vote.

Who can register to vote?

You can register to vote if you are 18 years old or over, and:

  • a UK or Irish citizen
  • a qualifying Commonwealth citizen living in the UK

EU citizens living in the UK can register to vote in local elections but they are not eligible to vote in General Elections

Did you know?

  • The vast majority of patients in the community can vote
  • Voluntary patients in mental health hospitals can vote
  • Patients under civil sections, such as section 2 and 3 of the Mental Health Act (MHA), can vote
  • Patients on a Community Treatment Order (CTO) can vote
  • A lack of mental capacity is not a legal incapacity to vote
  • Patients who are homeless, of no fixed abode or in B&B accommodation can vote
  • Prisoners remanded to hospital under the Mental Health Act (MHA) on Sections 35, 36 or 48 can vote.

Who cannot vote?

Patients detained after having been convicted of committing a criminal offence and been ordered to hospital by the Courts cannot vote.

How do I register to vote?

To vote you must be on the electoral register. You can register to vote online or by post. Visit the Government website to find out how

What should staff do?

  • Team leaders should consider appointing a voting rights lead for their team whose role will be to promote and monitor that patients and staff are being informed of their voting rights and that support is being offered to those patients who would like help to register/cast their vote
  • Read the Trust Voting rights policy
  • Try the staff voting rights quiz
  • Consider holding joint discussion groups on voting rights with patients and staff
  • Watch the Voting Rights film with other staff and with patients
  • Display posters on voting rights in staff and patient areas
  • Distribute information leaflets to patients and staff
  • Ask patients under your care if they need help to register and cast their vote and if they want help please offer them support to register and/or to cast their vote and document the support plan in their notes.

Claire Murdoch, CNWL Chief Executive, said: “This is all about civil rights for all citizens; something I’m passionate about and why this is a very important initiative.”

You can view the full film below:

Do you know your voting rights? from CNWL NHS Foundation Trust on Vimeo.