Posted in disability civil rights, Voting rights for people with disabilities.

While we worry about Russia, let’s also fix the voting problems here at home

It’s beyond unnerving to think that Russia might have interfered with the 2016 election. I think most would agree that no matter how long the current investigation takes, it should proceed. Nothing is more important than the integrity of our elections.

But there’s another less dramatic way wherein tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are being disenfranchised.

It’s common knowledge that when a person is adjudicated to be mentally incompetent, a court will often appoint a family member to be a conservator – to take over decisions regarding the individual’s health care or financial matters. Less well-known is the fact that in 39 states and the District of Columbia, judges have the option of unilaterally checking a box declaring that the individual lacks the mental capacity to vote – for life.

Worse yet, there are no uniform standards for judges to refer to in making that decision. In some cases, judges will disenfranchise an individual because they do not know the president’s or the mayor’s names. Under that standard, couldn’t a lot of non-disabled people also lose their right to vote?

Fortunately, disability advocate groups are pressuring their legislatures to come up with a more defined and universally-applied standard for judges to use in making this life-altering decision. And their efforts are starting to be successful. See the links below for more information.

Sometimes it’s easier to blame a foreign power than to look in our own backyard.

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