Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mental Illness and the Right to Vote.





“I just think if you are declared insane you should not be allowed to
vote, period,” said Joseph DeLorenzo, chairman of the Cranston Board of
Canvassers. “Some people are taking these two clowns and calling them disabled
persons. Is insanity a disability? I have an answer to that: no. You’re insane;
you’re nuts.”


Rhode Island is among a growing number of states grappling with the
question of who is too mentally impaired to vote. The issue is drawing attention
for two major reasons: increasing efforts by the mentally ill and their
advocates to secure voting rights, and mounting concern by psychiatrists and
others who work with the elderly about the rights and risks of voting by people
with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


Can I cringe long and hard now? The mentally ill shouldn't vote? What's a mental illness? Anyone who's had an episode of depression or mania? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? How about those panic attacks? And we can't figure out at what instant someone with dementia becomes unsafe to drive, how do figure out the instant at which they should stop voting? Anyone confined to a psychiatric facility? Anyone getting disability payments for a psychiatric disorder?


Dumb people can vote. Illiterate people can vote. Republicans can vote. Ugly people can vote. Why should the mentally ill have a standard different from anyone else's?