Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Shouldn't everyone get a Vote?

Why is it that people who are deemed incompetent get no vote? Why if you have alzheimer's or dementia or have a guardian you get no vote? Important decisions are made via voting that have an enormous impact on the quality of your life. Shouldn't you have a say in those important decisions?

I am not saying that the person with dementia casts the vote, but there is a person who is that person's next of kin who could vote on their behalf. I think there should be proxy voting for people deemed to be incompetent to vote.

I know this would be a ripe situation for abuse. It would have to be carefully designed so that it was only people who had nothing to gain from having a handful of proxy votes. A nursing home logically could be considered to be a proxy voter, but they have too much to gain from having those votes.

Perhaps you would have to designate who was going to be your proxy while you still were competent in the case of age-related acquired incompetency. Designate your spouse or your adult child. And perhaps in the case of children with disabilities - that if and when they acquired guardians - that would be decided as part of that procedure.

The problem this presents is what happens if your proxy dies or doesn't stay in touch - then do you lose your right to vote?

One of the reasons (only one)I will never become my son's guardian is because I will never take away his right to vote. He votes with tremendous pride. He chooses himself how he will vote with my support to understand the issues and the candidates. Twice he has been challenged about his right to vote (and he is just 24). I doubt he would have been challenged if he didn't have Down syndrome and look so obviously disabled. How many people who actually legally do not have the right to vote - vote - because no one challenges them?

Voting is a privilege. It is how we make decisions about the future of the place where we live. It is a privilege that should be denied no one.

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