Israeli Psychiatric Inpatients Go to the Polls


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Abstract

In 1996, mobile polls were introduced in Israel, enabling physically and emotionally ill inpatients to vote. We surveyed the rate of participation of inpatients at Lev-Hasharon Mental Health Center in parliamentary elections, their feelings regarding voting, and the nature of their vote, compared with the general population. One hundred eighteen of 306 (38.6%) patients voted compared with 63.8% of the general population. Forty-nine more patients (16%) wanted to vote but were unable to for technical reasons. More patients voted in the open than the closed wards (χ2 = 14.5; df = 1; p = .001). Most patients reported positive subjective feelings, a sense of responsibility (39%), belonging to the general community (28%), and pride (22%) after voting. Psychiatric inpatients voted similarly to the general population, though their percentage of voters was significantly lower. This discrepancy can be accounted for by lack of concern and ineligibility due to lack of identification documents that may reflect fundamental illness-related problems.

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