Clearing up misinformation about Question 8
To the Editor;
Question 8 asks of voters, “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision prohibiting a person under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting for Governor, Senators and Representatives, which the United States District Court for the District of Maine found violates the United States Constitution and federal law?”
Disability Rights Maine (DRM) is mandated to enforce, protect and advance the rights of people with disabilities. I have worked at DRM for 36 years.
Question 8 has generated misinformation and has once again highlighted the stigma inflicted upon any person who has a label of “mental illness.”
In 2001, the United States District Court for the District of Maine found that denying someone the right to vote was denying them a fundamental liberty. The court found that the provision within the Maine Constitution that automatically prohibits people under guardianship by reason of mental illness from registering to vote and voting, violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U. S. Constitution. The court also said that this provision of the Maine Constitution violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Individuals under guardianship are able to and are strongly encouraged to vote on Nov. 7.
A “yes” vote is in favor of removing the obsolete provision from the Maine Constitution. Repealing this provision is long overdue.
Disability Rights Maine