Professional News
Determining Capacity to Vote
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 10 page 8-8

Below is an excerpt from the Competency Assessment Tool for Voting (CAT-V) used to assess a person's capacity to vote. This section of the instrument specifically assesses comparative reasoning, ability to generate consequences, and appreciation of the effect of a choice on one's life. Following the excerpt is a guide for scoring.

Interviewer: "Let me ask you to imagine the following about the two candidates who are running. Candidate A thinks the state should be doing more to provide health insurance to people who don't have it and should be spending more money on schools. He is willing to raise taxes to get the money to do these things. Candidate B says the government should not provide health insurance but should make it easier for employers to offer it. He believes that the schools have enough money already but need tighter controls to make sure they use it properly. He is against raising taxes. Based on what I just told you, which candidate do you think you are more likely to vote for: A or B?"

Note to interviewer: If interviewee cannot choose a candidate or is vacillating, ask "If you had to make a choice based on the information you have before you, who would you pick?"

Score of 2: Clearly indicates choice.

Score of 1: Choice is ambiguous or vacillating. For example:" I think I might go for the guy who doesn't like taxes, but I'm not sure because schools are important too." Or "Candidate A, no candidate B, no Candidate A.... I can't decide."

Score of 0: No choice is stated. For example: "I don't know. I can never make up my mind."

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