Do the mentally ill have voting rights?

My fiance spent some time in a mental intstitution (she was being treated for PTSD) and was told that, she is not allowed to vote for a period of time after being released. Is this true? Are there certain States that revoke voting rights from those who have had a stint in a rehabilitation centre? Please explain, because this sounds wildly unconstitutional to me. Since when are we allowed to say to people; “Sorry, you are too crazy to vote.” What’s next; “Sorry, you are too stupid to vote”?

I’ve spent time in an istitution. they didn’t take away my voting rights. He might be right though.
I was 5150ed, a danger to myself or others, I was put on a three day hold. I’ve lost the right to possess a gun for the next three years. the next step is 5153ed, that is a two week hold. If that is done to you you lose your right to bear arms for life. Unless you challenge it as soon as they try and do it to you. If you don’t challenge it, you can’t challenge it a year or so down the road. Some area’s might have slight voting restrictions. The basic premise being, that once you are mentally ill, you lose your rights. Pretty stupid.
The voting doesn’t sound quite right though. They don’t do it here in CA.

just how would that presumably work? since the hospital cannot legally give out info to anyone calling up and asking without your expressed permission (in writing), lets see if I have this scene right: your friend goes to vote, the poll worker asks specifically, NOT for their voter registration card (which presumably they had before this incident), but “have you been nutso lately?” and then stops everything to call around first before handing over the ballot???

So, the hospital, as far as I can tell couldn’t legally Notify the clerks office, and if they were registered before, there’d be no reason to ask. Or, if they weren’t registered, the last time I saw some one register to vote they were only asked to fill out a form, which asked questions like “what’s your name/address/dob/citizenship” MAY have included a question like “have you been convicted of a felony in the past 10 minutes” (but not to my recollection) . anyhow. I’d heard also that felons weren’t permitted to vote, but while working the correction center, not a single one was prevented in any way (never asked the question)… :confused:

Heck, the mentally ill can run for office and occasionally win. Why couldn’t they vote?

This is just a WAG so take it with a block of salt…

IIRC your right to vote is extremely hard to revoke short of going to jail (and I’m not sure even then how that works).

I believe to have your voting rights revoked you essentially have to be so far gone that someone is assigned as a permanent guardian with power of attorney for you (that can be anyone from a family member to a judge). To get this power over someone you have to get a court to order it to be so.

Basically they’re saying you’re too far gone to be of any aid to yourself hence you have no business in determining who will govern (not to mention the potential for abuse…if you’re too far gone to form a coherent thought then a single person running the hospital could proably get all the patients to vote for the candidate the adminstrator chose).

It may be that if someone complete power of attorney for you (there are limited forms of power of attorney) even temporarily you may not be allowed to vote during that time (till it expires).

Well…you can check out the US Code on this at:

Typical legal mumbo-jumbo but if I read it correctly you can be denied the right to vote if you’re incompetent, illiterate or have less than a 6th grade education.

In this case I’m assuming the ‘incompetent’ bit is the only thing that would apply and I believe a court has to make the decision of incompetence (this jibes with my earlier post as if you’re deemed incompetent the court has to determine a guardian for that person).

One thing to note in the US Code I linked above are many ways that you can appeal and fight for your right to vote. If you exercise those rights it seems a court (or someone) MUST hear your case. If you’re being unfairly restrained you might look into that.

That law’s weird. One part says that literacy tests cannot be given to potential voters. However, this

This kinda sounds like the military’s policy on gays; that is, we can’t test you to see if you can read, but if in some other business it becomes evident that you can’t read, then you can’t vote.

Voting rights aside why is it “pretty stupid” to deny the right to bear arms to someone who has a demonstated history of chronic mental instability? It seems quite responsible for the government to do this… or are you only referring to the restriction of voting rights in this aspect?

Of course the mentally ill can vote! How else did [insert least favorite politician of your choice] get into office? :slight_smile:

It’s not a “demonstrated history” of mental instability. Let’s lay out a situation. This didn’t happen to me, happened to a friend. I’m 34. Been hunting my whole life, also have guns for said act. My wife leaves me and I become depressed. My doctor admits me to an institution by 5150ing me. After three days they decide that I’m still pretty depressed, and my medication hasn’t started working yet. They 5153 me. I don’t challenge it because it seems like a good idea. I think that they should observe me for at least a few more days. By not challenging it I have now given up my right to bear arms, for the REST OF MY LIFE.
That seems pretty stupid to me.

I’m psychiatrically diagnosed and not only do I vote, I vote as a highly politicized schizzy. (What’s your position on outpatient commitment, informed consent, the right to sue in cases of harm from forced treatment, senator?)

In general, your voting rights cannot be taken from you unless you are proven incompetent, which is not something that can be established simply from establishing that you have a psychiatric diagnosis, or even that you are a danger to self or others. Competency is a legal, not a medical standard, not even a psychiatric medical standard. For this reason, in fact, inmates in New York who are involuntarily held in psychiatric bins for being a danger to self or others have the right to say “no” to the needle unless also found incompetent in a competency hearing. Of course it is a right that is blithely ignored in many venues here in the staten of New York, which also passed outpatient commitment laws that are probably unconstitutional and in violation of the beforementioned recognition of competency, but you don’t always find consistency among the sane.

I’ve never been asked any question other than my social security number and address when I went to register to vote. If they are doing a check to see if I am a convicted felon, they aren’t being very obvious about it. There is not, as of yet, a registration requirement, so there is no way to check to see if a given person has ever been incarcerated as a psychotic. We certainly hope to keep it that way.

oldscratch - anecdotal reply to your contention that to deny hunting impliments to those with a demonstratable history of mental illness shouldn’t happen:

dear friend of mine went through several inpatient and out patient programs to deal with suicidal impulses, etc. on one of his “outpatient” times, he made many threats not only on his life but that of his wife (they were separated at the time). He went to K-marts, bought a shotgun (with a rubber check, too by the way), went to his wife’s work place kidnapped her at gunpoint. She was only able to get away when he was surprised by an onlooker. She got away, called the police. He succeeded in killing himself, and nearly orphaned his two young sons. Tragedy. Really wish there HAD been a law preventing K-mart from selling the gun. would that have ultimately saved him? we’ll never know. By the way, K-mart sued his estate for the rubber check.

and yes, I know that anecdotal items are not necessarily a bone fide refute to your stance, but perhaps something to think about, eh?