In August, I posted an article entitled “The Deciding Vote”, which discussed how gaining the vote of the disabled could effect the results of the tight 2016 Presidential race. What I did not consider, though, is that some of those with mental disabilities have lost their legal right to vote. “[It is] believed [that]… more than 30,000 Californians — and an unknown number of others in the U.S. — [have] lost their voting rights under state guardianship laws.” (“A guardian is a person, institution, or agency appointed by a court to manage the affairs of another individual.”) Given that the current polls show that this election is within the margin of error, these tens of thousands of votes per state could be of great import.
What constitutes a mental disability varies in each state. For example, ALA [Alabama] CODE § 38-9C-4(7) states, “Persons with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury have the right to vote and participate in the political process, subject to applicable laws.” About 30 other states, however, restrict the voting rights of those with traumatic brain injury and other neurological disabilities, such as autism and cerebral palsy. For example, in California, “Five years ago, a judge ruled that a traumatic brain injury disqualified [a man, David Rector, from voting].” (This year, after a trial in the San Diego Superior Court, David Rector regained his legal right to vote.)
To all those who have a disability that may be restrictive to others with the same disability, but who are legally allowed to vote themselves, I believe it is imperative to do so. Show that your vote matters!
* Click to view a full list of states that have laws related to voting for the neurologically disabled and a description of these laws.