OPA: A Short Guide to Voting Rights for People with Mental Health Disabilities

A Short Guide to Voting Rights

for People with Mental Health Disabilities

Both federal and Connecticut laws protect the rights of people with mental health disabilities to cast a private and independent vote. There is no good reason not to exercise your right to vote!

As a voter, you have several options: You can vote inside the polling place on one of two different kinds of machines; you can, with advance arrangement and because of illness or disability, vote from your car at the curbside of the polling place; or you can vote by absentee ballot. Depending upon your circumstances and preferences, you can choose the method that works for you.

Following are Questions and Answers about your right to vote:

May I vote if I am living in a psychiatric or other kind of institution?

Yes. Two statutes address the issue of voting rights for people living in institutions. Any person hospitalized in a facility for people with psychiatric disabilities has the right to vote unless a probate court has issued a specific order prohibiting this right. (In some circumstances, the voting method will be limited to absentee ballot.) (CT General Statutes §17a-541) In addition, if twenty or more registered voters are in another kind of facility, like a nursing home or general hospital, then the Registrars of Voters of the town in which the facility is located must supervise the picking up of absentee ballots and the delivery of them to the Clerk in the voters’ home districts. (CT General Statutes §9-159r) People in residence at any kind of institution should contact the facility’s Patient Advocate well in advance of an election to make voting arrangements, and, if necessary, to register.

 

May I vote if I have a guardian or conservator?

Yes. No one under guardianship or conservatorship may be denied the right to vote unless a probate court has issued a specific order prohibiting this right. (CT General Statutes §9-159s)

 

May I receive help in casting my vote?

Yes. If you require assistance to vote by reason of disability or inability to write or read the ballot, help may be provided by a person your choice, except 1) the voter’s employer; 2) an agent of the employer; 3) an officer or agent of the voter’s union; or 4) a candidate on the ballot, unless that candidate is a member of the voter’s immediate family. (CT General Statutes §9-264)

 

Are there two voting technologies used by the State of Connecticut?

Yes. The optical scan machine and the IVS Phone Voting System are the two technologies available. It is up to you to choose which one to use. Both technologies are located at your polling place; you cannot vote by phone from home. To use the optical scan, you fill out a paper ballot; to vote by phone, you follow audio cues.

 

May someone at the polls challenge my right to vote?

No! Your right to vote can’t be challenged unless your identity or place of residence is in doubt, or your right to vote has been taken away by probate court. (CT General Statutes 9-232)

 

For more information about your voting rights,

please contact Elanah Sherman at

860-297-4322 (V), 860-297-4380 (TTY), 800-842-7303 (V/TTY) or Elanah.Sherman@ct.gov



Content Last Modified on 10/17/2012 3:27:38 PM