Hermits Rock

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A follow-up to this post: Over the AP wire today comes the story of two Iowa women who challenged the ballots of relatives who they believed to be incapable of voting.

Brenda Lyddon said she was upset when staff at a group home in Grinnell took her 26-year-old son, who is developmentally disabled, to vote on Election Day against her wishes…. “I am his mother and he was not allowed to vote,” Lyddon said. “He does not have the mental capacity to choose for himself.” …

I support Timmy’s right to vote!

[Similarly,] in Council Bluffs, a woman challenged her elderly mother’s absentee ballot, claiming her mother suffered from dementia and was coerced into casting the ballot by Democratic campaign workers who were going door-to-door asking potential voters if they wanted an absentee ballot.

In both cases the challengers supported John McCain, while their relatives voted for Obama. And this is the rub: Who can really say whether such challenges hold merits on their own grounds or whether they are base attempts to support preferred candidates by disenfranchising the electorate of their opponents? No official attempting to ensure elections are fair would dare to make the judgment of who is competent and who is not. Fortunately, in both of these cases, no official did.



It’d be wonderful if this issue percolated up to the broader public debate, if only to see people try to grapple with the whole idea of what makes someone competent to vote.

if only to see people try to grapple [again] with the whole idea of what makes someone competent to vote.


I think the version of this that comes up more often is centered on the ignorance of the electorate. The enfranchisement of persons with disabilities comes up often come up in the access/fraud “debate.” States like Iowa’s that hold enfranchisement as the default position of the law are in the right: it should be an extended process to disenfranchise someone.

If it were to come up in the broader public debate, I hope the disenfranchisement of released felons would come up.

I wonder if Michael Bérubé has ever written about this? (I just did a quick search of his site and didn’t find anything.) If not, he should.