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HOW BAZELON CENTER UPDATES VOTING RIGHTS GUIDES, HIGHLIGHTING VOTER RIGHTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES! (604 hits)



For Immediate Release From Bazelon Law Center!


The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national legal advocacy organization advancing the rights of people with mental disabilities, has issued an updated version of its guide www.bazelon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Bazelon-2020-Voter-Guide-Full.pdf
for voters with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities. The guide is issued jointly with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the National Disability Rights Network, and the law firms of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. A plain language www.bazelon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Bazelon-2020-Voter-Guide-Full.pdf
version of the guide is available as well.

“People with mental disabilities represent millions of Americans and their voices should be heard, especially for this year’s elections, in which they have an enormous amount at stake” said Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy for the Bazelon Center. “We also want to remind the public that people with mental disabilities have the same right to vote as others and should have the opportunity to exercise this right. Volunteers at voting precincts, poll watchers, passers-by, employers, service providers and government officials should not assume that a person with mental disabilities is ineligible to cast a vote.”

The Bazelon Center’s advocacy has resulted in a number of states updating their voting laws to be consistent with federal law and ensure that if a person with a mental disability can make a choice, that person can vote.

According to Lewis Bossing, Senior Staff Attorney at the Bazelon Center, “the voter guide offers important tips for people with mental disabilities and advocates concerning what to know when they register and vote.” For example:

People with mental disabilities have the right to register to vote and cast their vote, just like every other United States citizen. People with mental disabilities registering to vote must meet their state’s requirements for all voters – but have the right to reasonable accommodations if they need them.
If a state has competence requirements for voters, those requirements must be applied to ALL voters and not single out people with disabilities or people under guardianship.
Generally, only a court can take away a person's right to vote.
If an individual’s right to vote is challenged at the polling station, the voter has the right to (and must be given) a provisional ballot.
People with mental disabilities CAN receive help to register and vote, by a helper of the person’s choice.
If you are a person with mental disabilities or an advocate who needs additional support or resources, contact the “Protection and Advocacy” office in your state. Visit the National Disability Rights Network at www.ndrn.org to find your state’s “Protection and Advocacy” office.

In time for this critical election, the Bazelon Center has issued a revised edition of its guide to the voting rights of people with mental disabilities, “VOTE. It's Your Right. Guide to the Voting Rights of People with Mental Disabilities.” The guide, compiled jointly with the National Disability Rights Network, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and the law firms of Schulte, Roth & Zabel LLP and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP lists key legal principles and focuses on four areas of concern:

voter-competence requirements;
state photo-ID laws;
voter challenges; and
providing help to voters with disabilities.

“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. The plain language version of the guide is available here.

Our updated charts showing voter competence laws, absentee ballot laws and voter challenge laws in each state can be found at http://www.bazelon.org/our-work/voting/.

*Upcoming Deadlines for Absentee Ballot Requests and Submission, Voter Registration Deadlines, and Early Voting Timeframes, can be found at: https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/state-elections/state-election-dates-deadlines.htm#AK

All of the Bazelon Center's voting rights resources can be found HERE: http://www.bazelon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Bazelon-2020-Voter-Guide-Full.pdf


#VoteForMentalHealth #Act4MentalHealth #RestoreTheVRA #RockTheVote
Posted By: agnes levine
Saturday, October 24th 2020 at 4:46PM
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