On October 5, 2020, CMS issued this QSO-21-02-NH memorandum. This is a 3-page document.
A resident’s rights, including the right to vote, must not be impeded in any way by the nursing home and its facility staff.
Nursing homes should have a plan to ensure residents can exercise their right to vote, whether in-person, by mail, absentee, or other authorized process. If a state has specific programs to enable nursing home residents to vote, the facility should coordinate and engage with those programs, as appropriate. This may include:
• Mobile Polling in residential facilities performed by a bipartisan team of workers; and/or
• Assistance in registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, or completing a ballot from an agent of the Resident’s choosing, including family representative, LTC Ombudsmen or nursing home staff (or other personnel permitted to perform these functions, per state law).
Whether or not external assistance is available to come into the facility, nursing homes are required to support a resident in the exercise of their right (§483.10(b)(2)) to vote, such as assisting with absentee or mail-in voting, or transporting residents to polling locations or ballot drop-boxes in a safe manner. Social distancing should still be maintained if a facility chooses to transport a few smaller number of residents at a time (depending on the size of the vehicle).
Nursing home residents or their representatives who believe their rights under these regulations have been violated can file a complaint with their State Survey Agency, here: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-andCertification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Downloads/Complaintcontacts.pdf
Allegations of voter coercion or intimidation can also be referred to the Department of Justice for filing voting complaints with the Civil Rights Division by calling 800-253-3931, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting an online form .
CMS has provided a sample letter to convey this information to residents or family members – Dear Nursing Home Resident or Family Member of Resident.