“In my family, voting was the highest honor of citizenship,” his daughter, Judith Kozlowski, said. “You owed it to your country to vote; that was always the message.”
It remains important to Mr. Kozlowski, now a resident of an independent living facility in Chevy Chase, Md. He didn’t want to vote in person this year, wary of exposure to the coronavirus, so his daughter helped him request a mail-in ballot — even though he has developed dementia.
“Some days he’s right on the mark, sometimes he’s not,” said Ms. Kozlowski, 68. Her father can grow disoriented; prone to wandering, he requires round-the-clock caregivers. Yet he watches “The PBS NewsHour” and CNN “religiously,” his daughter said, and tuned in for the presidential and vice-presidential debates.
He has macular degeneration, so Ms. Kozlowski read him the ballot during short, kitchen-table sessions over several days. It probably helped that as a former federal prosecutor and elder justice consultant, she knew the rules better than most.
Her father could tell her which candidates he wanted to vote for.
And that is all it takes.
“There are many misperceptions of what ‘capacity to vote’ is,” said Charles Sabatino, director of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging. “Incapacity to follow a recipe and cook dinner doesn’t mean incapacity to vote. The inability to remember your grandchildren’s names doesn’t mean you can’t vote.”
What is required — as the commission and the Penn Memory Center point out in a new guide — is the ability to express a preference.
Featured Image: Seattle, WA – March 10, 2020: Washington State’s Mail in Ballots for Presidential Primary Elections Being Dropped off at Designated Collection Box. Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk.