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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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Is it true that the mentally ill cannot vote in a ...

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Is it true that the mentally ill cannot vote in a presidential election? If so, what is the legal definition of mentally ill?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 8 years ago.
I don't believe that is completely correct. Some states restrict the right of mentally ill people to vote but these are getting fewer as you go. Inorder to restrict the rights there woudl have to be some type of judicial determination of mental illness like if you were found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity or if a judge determined you were mentally ill in a commitement proceeding.

This restriction on voting will be hard pressed to pass constitutional muster as well since there is no set description of mental illness therefore it would be "void for vagueness".

I am going to post a link here to an excellent article on this topic
http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2007/04/22/advocates_for_mentally_ill_say_restrictions_on_voting_unfair/

Thank you for allowing me to assist you. I believe I have answered all of the questions you asked so I would request that you please click the ACCEPT button so I receive credit for my work and leave feedback if you have a chance. Please consider clicking "BONUS" as a nice way of saying "thanks" for a job well done, although this is neither required nor expected. Always feel free to ask additional questions. Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely information and no attorney client relationship has been formed. You should always contact a local attorney for legal advice.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
So even if this was a restriction on voting, it would be a state restriction and not a constitutional one? I teach a special education class with students who have been classified as mentally retarded and I wanted to include a unit on presidential elections. While planning my lessons, I came across a book which stated, "The last two rules are restrictions. Felons cannot vote and neither can the mentally ill." I do not want to encourage these students to vote, if in fact, they cannot!
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 8 years ago.
There is no federal constitutional restriction on that. There may be a federal law I am unawre of but I don't think so.

I think the restrictions will not pass contitutional muster if ever challenged. The ones I am aware of are too vague, because mental illness can include somwthing like depression, which doesn't render you unable to make reasonable decisions. There may be some type of restrictions eventually, but they will be few and far between.

The passing of the ADA several years ago paved the way for all of these to be challanged because it basically created a special "class" for the disabled. If you have a class you can't be discriminated against.

Thank you for allowing me to assist you. I believe I have answered all of the questions you asked so I would request that you please click the ACCEPT button so I receive credit for my work and leave feedback if you have a chance. Please consider clicking "BONUS" as a nice way of saying "thanks" for a job well done, although this is neither required nor expected. Always feel free to ask additional questions. Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely information and no attorney client relationship has been formed. You should always contact a local attorney for legal advice.

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