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  #1  
Old 05-27-2003, 04:48 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Are the mentally impaired allowed to vote?

Firstly, I'm not sure what is acceptable usage these days when talking about mental impairments, so no offense is meant.

What are the laws governing whether people with various mental impairments are allowed to vote:

1. Mental retardation
2. Down's Syndrome (as distinct from #1)
3. Someone with severe trauma to the head that has significanly impaired mental ability.

Assuming the person in question is of legal voting age.

Primarily interested in the situation in the US, but curious as well about how it is handled in other countries.
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  #2  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:03 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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some info here
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  #3  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:14 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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Quote:
Are the mentally impaired allowed to vote?
Yes. They're called Democrats.



[Yuk, yuk. C'mon someone had to do it. Grinny.]
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  #4  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:17 PM
Sengkelat Sengkelat is offline
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Funny, stuyguy, I was going to say
"Not sure, but they apparently can hold office."
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  #5  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:21 PM
UrbanChic UrbanChic is offline
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I just called my aunt who worked for BARC and now works for another agency that works with the mentally challenged. She assured me they can vote.
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:24 PM
Cerowyn Cerowyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by stuyguy
C'mon someone had to do it.
Really? Are you sure? In GQ? :wally

Getting back to the OP...

In Canada, mentally disabled people weren't "re-enfranchised" until our new Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms in 1982.
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  #7  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:24 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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Since there's no Constitutional protection for mentally disabled people voting, I believe this would be purely a matter of state law.

Looking up each state's laws regarding mental disabilities and voting rights is left as an exercise for the reader.
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  #8  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:39 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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As friedo stated, that's a matter of state law. The one state law cited in this thread says only if the person is adjudicated to be mentally incompetent and has not regained his mental competency. This is consonant with the general rule as far as person being able to act. Sui juris is the legal term, meaning possessing full social and civil rights; not under any legal disability. Generally, you are not under any legal disability until a court says you are.
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  #9  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:39 PM
handy handy is offline
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I think that every american citizen of the right age has the right to vote. Why wouldn't they be allowed to?
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  #10  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:49 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy
I think that every american citizen of the right age has the right to vote. Why wouldn't they be allowed to?
Because states are allowed to set restrictions on who can vote, so long as there's nothing in the Constitution keeping them from setting those restrictions. So, in some states, ex-felons can't vote, for example.

Then, of course, there are the residents of territories, who are US citizens, but can't vote (for President).
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  #11  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:51 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy
I think that every american citizen of the right age has the right to vote. Why wouldn't they be allowed to?
Well, felons lose the franchise. It's part of their punishment, at least while they're behind bars.

I can't imagine a comatose person casting a meaningful ballot, but I'm sure some manage to in some states.

Of course, you need a minimum of brains to register and actually make the decision to hie thee to a polling place on time. I believe that is the Major Determinant in this country.
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  #12  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:52 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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handy,
Quote:
CALIFORNIA

Register to Vote
You must:

Be a citizen of the United States
Be a resident of California
Be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election
Not be imprisoned or on Parole for the conviction or a felony
Not currently be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law.
From x-ray vision's cite, and this, from a cursory glance at the link, appears to be the law in all the states.
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  #13  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:54 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy
I think that every american citizen of the right age has the right to vote. Why wouldn't they be allowed to?
I don't know. Is someone with Down's syndrome allowed to have a driver's license?

I'm completely ignorant on this. It has come up a few times in GD, and I've always assumed that someone who is severely mentally retarded couldn't vote. Not sure how I see that it makes sense to allow this and not allow a 17 yr old. Of course you have the sticky problem of defining mental ability. Where do you draw the line?

I really don't know and am interested in how this is handled.
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  #14  
Old 05-27-2003, 05:54 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Triple-simulpost. Someone needs to get out more.

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Old 05-27-2003, 05:54 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Triple-simulpost. Someone needs to get out more.

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  #16  
Old 05-27-2003, 07:23 PM
manhattan manhattan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by stuyguy
Yes. They're called Democrats.



[Yuk, yuk. C'mon someone had to do it. Grinny.]
No, you really didn't. We're trying to run a factual forum here, thanks.
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  #17  
Old 05-27-2003, 07:24 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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From this site:



Quote:
Developmentally disabled citizens are eligible to vote unless a court has specifically found them to be mentally incompetent, which is rare. Even if someone has a legal guardian making many major decisions for them, they can still vote unless a court rules otherwise.
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  #18  
Old 05-27-2003, 07:31 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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From the moderator's notes on General Questions (bolding mine):

These rules are not meant to discourage threads or posts! The SDMB and this forum in particular rely on a constant stream of high-quality questions, accurate answers and witty wisecracks to stay alive. In particular, if you have a good joke that fits in an existing thread, go right ahead and post it.
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  #19  
Old 05-27-2003, 08:01 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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X-ray:

Thanks! Both cites were very informative.

I'm starting to think that the difficulties that would entail if we tried to restrict the vote would not be worth the potential abuses, given the relatively small number of individuals involved and the fact that both sides of any issue could easily find their willing supporters among the mentally impaired.
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  #20  
Old 05-27-2003, 08:59 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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Quote:
...In particular, if you have a good joke that fits in an existing thread, go right ahead and post it...
x-ray, you're my hero!

[Non-partisan grinnies to all, even Mister Manny the mean ol' moderator.]
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  #21  
Old 05-27-2003, 09:05 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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Quote:
...In particular, if you have a good joke that fits in an existing thread, go right ahead and post it...
x-ray, you're my hero!

[Non-partisan grinnies to all, even Mister Manny the mean ol' moderator.]
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  #22  
Old 05-27-2003, 10:02 PM
county county is offline
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I believe that felons lose the right to vote; unless they receive a pardon.
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  #23  
Old 05-27-2003, 10:14 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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Depends on the state county, click on my first link.
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  #24  
Old 05-27-2003, 10:15 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by John Mace
I don't know. Is someone with Down's syndrome allowed to have a driver's license?
There is a big difference here. Having a driver's license is a privilege, not a right. The state has much broader scope in denying an individual a driver's license than it does a fundamental right, such as the one to vote.
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  #25  
Old 05-27-2003, 10:45 PM
whistlepig whistlepig is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
There is a big difference here. Having a driver's license is a privilege, not a right. The state has much broader scope in denying an individual a driver's license than it does a fundamental right, such as the one to vote.
And as a right, a driver's license is earned, not denied.

Any person* can get a driver's license. You just have to pass the written and driving tests.

A disability allows only certain accommodations on the written test and only certain modifications on the driving test (e.g., hand controls that are legal for any driver).

Whistlpig, who has helped people with developmental disabilites study for and pass his or her driver's test.
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  #26  
Old 05-27-2003, 10:53 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by whistlepig
And as a right, a driver's license is earned, not denied.
You can call it a right all you want, but it's not. My point was, and still is, that the state can suspend or revoke your driving privileges for a much broader range of reasons than it could a more fundamental, constistutional right.
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  #27  
Old 05-27-2003, 11:51 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I work with DD. They are allowed to vote, but I've rarely seen any who did.
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  #28  
Old 05-28-2003, 12:47 AM
InLikeFlynn InLikeFlynn is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by stuyguy
Yes. They're called Democrats.



[Yuk, yuk. C'mon someone had to do it. Grinny.]
Im a life long DEM and still have to admit that that was pretty good and the rest of you tight wad's really need to lighten up!!
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  #29  
Old 05-28-2003, 12:58 AM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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"Yes. They're called Democrats."

Actually, I should have diffused that in the OP. My fault.
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  #30  
Old 05-28-2003, 02:08 AM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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I don't have a cite, but... Back in the 90s, there was a scandal revolving around absentee ballots at a nursing home for the elderly. The director of the place made sure every resident got an absentee ballot and, if they were in no mental condition to use it (quite a few were not), the director would vote Democrat for them.

Of course, in a number of Chicago and Texas elections, dead people somehow managed to cast their vote as well.
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  #31  
Old 05-28-2003, 02:41 AM
Yeticus Rex Yeticus Rex is offline
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We operate a day program for Dev. Disabled Adults and if they want to vote, we can assist and transport them to their polling place to vote. I have 6 or 7 of them vote on a regular basis and they take it seriously. Sometimes they ask me about a certain person/proposition and I try my best to avoid answering them so I won't be accused of swaying their votes. I do tell them if they don't understand a certain issue, then don't vote one that particular one; you can skip certain areas and vote for the people or props that you know well enough. Some of these adults live with their parents (still!) and the parents will try to keep them from voting which I think is terrible. We are trying to integrate them into society, not isolate them further. Other parents fill out their voting guides and have them vote the same way as the parents do which is even worse. I try to discourage that and let the adult know that he/she should vote what he/she thinks, not what others want you to think. After all, some candidates/propositions WILL affect their daily lives, directly or indirectly.

Then on the other hand, I have my mother-in-law pick up my father-in-law's voter guide and copy everything that he votes for, so I think the "voting abuses" go further than just the developmentally disabled.
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  #32  
Old 05-28-2003, 03:46 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by John Mace
"Yes. They're called Democrats."

Actually, I should have diffused that in the OP. My fault.
Defused, actually. It isn't a gas.
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