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The Bazelon Center Releases Updated Voting Rights Guide
Newly-Released Guide Aims to Protect
the Voting Rights of People with Mental Disabilities09/27/16 - Today,
National Voter Registration Day, a newly-updated voting rights guide for
people with mental disabilities was released by the Bazelon Center, the
National Disability Rights Network, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network,
and leading law firm Schulte, Roth & Zabel.
The guide, "VOTE. It's Your Right: A Guide to the Voting Rights of People
with Mental Disabilities" lists key legal principles and focuses on four
areas of concern: 1) voter-competence requirements, 2) state photo-ID
laws, 3) voter challenges and 4) providing help to voters with
disabilities. The guide also includes an updated chart listing each
state's laws affecting the voting rights of people with mental
The guide provides information about state laws and practices that limit
the voting rights of people with mental disabilities and offers tools to
help people with disabilities preserve or restore their voting rights.
Laws that block people with disabilities from voting based on guardianship
status are "based on a faulty stereotype" that these people "are incapable
of making informed choices," said Lewis Bossing, Senior Staff Attorney at
the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Similarly, requiring voters with
disabilities to answer questions not asked of other voters impermissibly
discriminates. "Such arbitrary disenfranchisement violates federal law,"
said Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy at the Bazelon
Center for Mental Health Law. "We produced this guide to provide needed
clarity and ensure that people with mental disabilities can exercise their
right to vote like every other citizen."
"People with disabilities deserve to have their basic rights and freedoms
protected like all other Americans. The right to vote should not be any
different," said Michelle Bishop, National Disability Rights Network
Advocacy Voting Rights Specialist. Samantha Crane, Autistic Self Advocacy
Network Legal Director and Director of Public Policy, added that "We need
to make sure that people with disabilities and their supporters know their
rights, so that nobody is illegally prevented from voting on election
"Voting is an important expression of freedom, and this guide will serve
as a vital resource to help preserve the rights of people with mental
disabilities," added Craig Stein, Schulte Roth & Zabel partner and co-head
of the Structured Finance & Derivatives Group.
VOTE. It's Your Right. is available as a free PDF to download from the
Bazelon Center's website, at: VOTE. It's Your Right. Guide to the Voting
Rights of People with Mental Disabilities
To obtain print copies please email firstname.lastname@example.org.