Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Voting and Dementia

Although it's not directly related to international politics, this story in today's Washington Post was too interesting to pass up. It raises the possibility that the presidential election of 2000 was ultimately decided by people suffering from dementia (of which Alzheimer's disease is the most common form) or their caregivers. Here's an excerpt:

As swing states with large elderly populations such as Florida gear up for another presidential election, a sleeper issue has been gaining attention on medical, legal and political radar screens: Many people with advanced dementia appear to be voting in elections -- including through absentee ballot. Although there are no national statistics, two studies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island found that patients at dementia clinics turned out in higher numbers than the general population.

There are 4.5 million people with Alzheimer's in the United States. As the population ages, that number will increase. As it does so, questions concerning the right of persons suffering from different forms of mental illness to vote will require answers.