Mental Illness and Loss of Voting Rights April 16, 2010Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness, Mental Illness and Voting Rights.
Tags: mental illness, Mental Illness and Voting Rights
Did you realize that in 39 of 50 States, there are restrictions on voting rights for people with mental illnesses? Do you know what your State’s position is on the voting rights of people with mental illness?
In Washington State, “All persons while they are judicially declared mentally incompetent are excluded from the voting process” Washington Constitution Article 6 SS 3.
In addition, “Upon receiving official notice that a court has imposed a guardianship for an incapacitated person and has determined that the person is incompetent for the purpose of rationally exercising the right to vote, under Chapter 11.88 RCW if the person is a registered voter in the county, the county auditor shall cancel the person’s voter registration.” Revised Code of Washington Ann. 29A.08.515.
The obvious question is what is the difference between mental illness and mental incompetence and who decides?
Several other issues follow this one. First of all, it’s a scary, slippery slope when we allow a court to determine who is competent enough to vote. Don’t like the way someone might vote? Just declare them not competent enough to rationally exercise the right to vote. Take away their right to vote. Problem solved!
Secondly, and even scarier for me, if I’m reading this correctly, it appears that the second I was involuntarily committed, I lost my voting rights. Can this really be true? It sounds like it. Is this legal? Is this fair? Is this constitutional? I think not! But where are my defenders?
If you would like to check out your own State’s position on voter rights for people with mental illness, check out this site: http://www.bazelon.org/pdf/voter_qualification_chart6-08.pdf
Note: This article was inspired by The Lunatic Fringe’s blog entry http://lunatickfringe.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/changing-the-kansas-constitution/