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ACLU Issues Statement in Response to Comments About the Right to Vote for Those with Mental Illness

Posted: October 18, 2012|

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The following statement was made today:

"The chair of the Cranston Board of Canvassers has been quoted as saying that many Rhode Islanders may not “like the idea” that Michael Woodmansee has the right to vote. Whether they like the idea or not, that is no basis for an election official to be raising questions about whether a person should be allowed to exercise this fundamental right. Mr. DeLorenzo, of all people, should know that this argument has no legal validity, since four years ago he also unsuccessfully tried to bar two other residents at the Eleanor Slater Hospital from voting until the Board of Elections overturned those efforts.

People who have a mental illness – even those in a hospital – do not lose the right to vote. Nor do people who have committed heinous crimes, but have served their prison time. There is absolutely no evidence that Woodmansee fails to meet the qualifications for voting. It is deeply troubling that an elections official would suggest that any person should be barred from voting without any legal grounds for doing so, but simply because he doesn’t believe they deserve to exercise this right."

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