Bega Valley nursing home residents told to get "mentally unfit" form signed

It appears that residents of two local nursing homes were not allowed to vote in the local council elections.

Bimbimbie Retirement Village, Merimbula and Roy Wotton Gardens, Eden, both run by RSL Lifecare, are both classed as Declared Institutions for voting which means an official would collect the ballot papers of residents able to vote. Until this year when it was moved to Twyford, Bimbimbie was also a pre-polling location.

Bimbimbie general manager Pamela Robertson said due to construction work “council did not come in because they thought we were closing”. She said they “tried to get a postal vote arranged but without success”. RSL Lifecare then filed a bulk excuse form for anyone in the facility.

At Roy Wotton Gardens, residents were given a form to fill in which declared them to be mentally unfit to vote. 

Councillor Sharon Tapscott’s mother Jean Stroud is a resident at Roy Wotton Gardens.

Mrs Stroud was given the form by staff as were other residents, they were asked to have visiting doctors complete the form and return it to staff. Instead Mrs Stroud handed it to her daughter but said she believed other residents had the forms completed.

“To my knowledge the next of kin were never contacted and they gave my mother no explanation, Mrs Tapscott said. “I also want to know who gave the Electoral Commission the information that Bimbimbie was a construction site.”

The voting arrangements also came to the attention of former mayor, Michael Britten wrote to the returning officer in charge of the count for Council elections.

In a strongly worded letter, Mr Britten said he believed voters had been disenfranchised by either the Electoral Commission and/or RSL Lifecare. He said signing a form to say “the person is of unsound mind and incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting” has far reaching implications beyond voting.

The Electoral Commission has not responded to a request for comment.

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