Voting Rights for All

People with Disabilities Are Prevented from Voting

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, during which more than a thousand volunteers went to assist African Americans in that state in their efforts to vote. From helping people prepare for literacy tests to facing angry mobs at voter registration offices, these volunteers encouraged citizens to navigate through a system steeped in racism to achieve their constitutional rights. During that summer, Mississippi citizens and volunteers were subjected to prison, beatings, even death.

Yet, at the time this violence was happening, leaders in Mississippi claimed that the volunteers were trying to create havoc in their communities. “We treat our blacks well down here,” some whites argued, saying “blacks don’t need to vote because that would complicate matters.” These paternalistic statements masked racist attitudes that gave state sanction to segregation, discrimination, lynching, and other barbarities. If blacks voted, state leaders feared, racist practices would be in retreat.

Today, 50 years after the Mississippi Freedom Summer, 40,000 people with disabilities have been found disqualified from voting in California because they are under conservatorships. The law is clear: A judge cannot take away a person’s right to vote because of a conservatorship. To take away the right to vote, a separate hearing on just that matter needs to be called.

Recently, a consumer of a local day program in Santa Barbara testified in Sacramento about the need to protect funding for the agency he attends. He was so engaged by the experience that a few weeks later he asked the staff at the program to help him register to vote again. When his parents, who had conservatorship over him, found out, they asked the clerk to remove his name from the rolls.

His parents, perhaps like the whites in Mississippi five decades ago, worried that if their son voted, “the boat would rock.” What so many have fought for is the right to have a voice in our democracy. For those in a conservatorship, that right should not automatically be voided.

Historically the right to vote has been attacked by people who are afraid, of what would happen if Group X went to the ballot box. However, the notion that all members of one group would vote one way is stereotyping in the worst way possible. Instead of rushing to conclusions, and then courthouses, about what will happen if one group voted, we should work to create a society in which we needn’t be afraid of what will happen if people of one race, religion, sexual orientation, class, or disability choose to cast their ballot.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Oh yea, this is a HUGE problem...?

nomoresanity (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2014 at 7:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, it is.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2014 at 10:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As more and more people habe been given the vote, the vote itself has become more and more meaningless.

dewdly (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2014 at 11:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Spoken like a true Nazi dewdly, why do you bother pretending otherwise?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2014 at 12:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well I don't think anybody should be able to vote to take away somebody else's rights.

If you only let a certain part of the population vote, then they can create tyrannical laws against everybody else. Sort of like how we only allow adults to vote, and look what happens to kids....they get put in these weird sorta concentration camps all day, many of them are completely fenced off with armed guards. I don't call them concentration camps because they are killing the children, but because they try to make them concentrate all day.

Do the adults care? No, they are just glad they don't have to deal with their kids all day.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2014 at 12:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)


I was referring to the time period, not any particular voters. Having the vote obscures the fact that people generally have no say in how their country is run - especially on the national level. There is a frequent "changing of the guard", but what the guards are not protecting us, our interests, or our constitution.

dewdly (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2014 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"As more and more people habe been given the vote, the vote itself has become more and more meaningless."

Meaningless for whom?

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
July 24, 2014 at 9:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The consumer should contact his attorney - if he's under conservatorship he has one- and request his voting rights get reinstated. He could also call the court investigator and explain his situation and his desire to vote.

akdiaz (anonymous profile)
July 24, 2014 at 1:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

All citizens should have the right to vote and exercise that right. Non-citizens, not so much. How ya gonna tell the difference?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 24, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Meaningless for whom?"

Everybody except for Goldman Sachs and the military industrial complex?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
July 24, 2014 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The real problem was hidden in this opinion: "Recently, a consumer of a local day program in Santa Barbara testified in Sacramento about the need to protect funding for the agency he attends."

Which the legislature did by adding small, but desperately needed increases in funding. These were subsequently axed by Gov. Brown just before the budget bell tolled.

The real discrimination against people like this person happens systematically every June when the funding that keeps them out of hospitals and engaged in their communities gets slashed or ignored year after year.

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
July 24, 2014 at 4:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"As more and more people habe been given the vote, the vote itself has become more and more meaningless."

Hmm. The Ancient Greeks only allowed certain people to vote and it was called democracy.

So you agree that we should not let slaves, women or non-landowners vote.

Rupert Murdoch has a job for you.

ahem (anonymous profile)
July 24, 2014 at 9:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

ahh, ahem, troll dewdly just likes stirrin the pot...he added "Having the vote obscures the fact that people generally have no say in how their country is run -" ... written like a real fascist, KV's correct. The fact that many people exercise their right to vote [often not nearly enough actually] has NOTHING to do with whether or not they "have a say in how their country is run". They get to elect representatives, who then attempt the run the country. Idiotic, man, just truly inane and off topic.
ahem, dewdly would only allow god-fearing folks like Katie Short & her ilk run the show and vote; they'd repress women and a woman's right to choose [dewdly has written "woman should submit to men"]. The ancient Greeks said you had to be over 30, male citizen, and for a long time there was a property qualification.
I think Vladdy Putin has a job for dewdly.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2014 at 12:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If Dewdly doesn't want women to vote, and he thinks You (Dan) and Ken are women, that means he doesn't want you to vote.

Time to get a sex change for protests' sake.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2014 at 6:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

John Adams,

Meaningless for all of us.

dewdly (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2014 at 8:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You all missed the point. As the electorate has expanded the effect of our votes has diminished. We are not asked to vote on important issues. There is a pretense that our representatives actually represent our interests, but if they did would they always be doing things that are inimical to those interests? Does the majority of the voters really want millions of Mexicans coming into our country? Does the majority of the voters want to finance and fight wars in the Middle East? Does the majority want to be forced to buy health insurance? So often when the majority votes and prevails the judiciary effectively cancels its vote.

An example of this deterioration is what now passes for "women's issues". The real women's issues are family issues but women have been persuaded that what matters most is access to abortion and birth control. Women voting for abortion and birth control will vote for increased third world immigration, laws limiting their rights as parents, the deterioration of public schools, and a hemorrhaging of our lifeblood to pay for wars in which we have no interest.

The powers that be only allow an increase in the electorate if it means they have more control. The people had more control when men cast a vote for their families and that vote was not cancelled by wives with "issues" of their own.

dewdly (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2014 at 9:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: