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Protected adults’ voting rights: an interdisciplinary study of medical assessment and jurisprudence in France
  1. Antoine Bosquet1,
  2. Isabelle Mahé1,2
  1. 1 Médecine Interne, Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Hôpital Louis Mourier, Colombes, France
  2. 2 Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Recherche Clinique Ville-Hôpital, Méthodologies et Société (REMES) EA 7334, Université Paris Diderot, Colombes, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Antoine Bosquet; antoine.bosquet{at}


Objectives The study’s objective was to describe the decision-making about voting rights of protected adults, which includes the medical assessment and the magistrate’s decision to maintain voting rights or not.

Design This work explores using an interdisciplinary approach: first, magistrate’s decision-making with a systematic review of jurisprudence and second medical assessment with semistructured questionnaires sent to physicians assessing adults under guardianship.

Setting France.

Participants For jurisprudence’s analysis, all guardianship decisions found on the website and that specified the protected person’s voting rights were analysed. For the survey about medical civic assessment, an 18-item questionnaire was sent to all physicians drawing up medical certificates prior to placement under guardianship in one urban (Paris and the three surrounding departments) and one rural area of France (the 10 most rural French administrative departments).

Main outcome measures The analysis of jurisprudence explores the situation concerning protected adults’ voting rights and the reasons for magistrates’ decision. The survey about medical civic assessment explores the means of medical assessment (persons consulted, information collected), the content of the medical certificate, the physicians’ opinions regarding their role.

Results The analysis of the jurisprudence demonstrates that 30% (51/171) of protected adults kept the right to vote. The survey shows that medical assessment varied according to the physician’s gender, specialty and geographical location. Voting capacity was the main criterion common to both physicians and magistrates in the decision whether to maintain voting rights. 27% (34/124) of physicians would like the official texts to be more precise, and one-third (41/133) wished to have tools to facilitate assessment of civic capacity.

Conclusions Official guides need to be drawn up to detail the criteria for and means of medical assessment of the civil capacity of protected adults, with a view to ensuring transparency and homogeneity in the exercise of justice.

  • right to vote
  • democracy
  • guardianship
  • capacity to vote
  • capacity assessment
  • political participation

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors Study design and interpretation of data: AB and IM. Jurisprudence review, analysis of data and paper drafting: AB. Paper revision: IM. AB is the guarantor of the study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Permission to collect and process data for this study was approved by the data protection committee (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Additional data are available: online supplementary files 1–8.

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