December 3 2012

Mentally Incompetent Woman Votes for President Obama..."President of What?" She Asks

Charlotte Hays

 

If this isn’t voter fraud, I don’t know what is:

Cecil Pearson’s daughter Darlene told him she voted for Barack Obama for president. President of what? Cecil says Darlene couldn’t tell you. Darlene, 40, is developmentally disabled and functions cognitively at about the level of a 7-year old. She lives in a group home with five other adult women in Roanoke Rapids….

A series of [Carolina Journal] reports have unearthed organized efforts to register patients in state facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, and to assist them in voting. Advocates for the disabled contend these efforts are legal, but there appears to be some confusion involving state laws that govern voting rights.

Cecil Pearson’s concerns reveal additional ambiguities in the legal boundaries between patients, guardians, and public officials regarding voting rights of the mentally and developmentally disabled in group homes and other private facilities.

Cecil and his wife, Judy, live in Roanoke Rapids and run a small business there. Easter Seals of North Carolina and Virginia operates Darlene’s group home. Darlene and the others were taken in a van to an early voting site in Roanoke Rapids and voted curbside with assistance of a Halifax County election board employee. Pearson contends that the only way she could have made a choice on a ballot would be if someone made it for her.

Halifax County Elections Board Chairwoman Marilyn Harris told CJ that she was aware of Mr. Pearson’s concerns. “We had a registered voter who presented herself to vote. She asked for assistance and she was allowed to vote,” Harris said.

No doubt, there are many mentally handicapped people who can and should vote, but it appears that Darlene Pearson is not one of them.

Darlene Pearson, according to her father, can read only simple words such as “dog” or “cat.” She does not know her complete address. Her vote was used by employees at the home to gain additional votes for their choice of president.

North Carolina, according to the CJ piece, is one of the few states that has no regulations against mentally incompetent people voting.  The statute says:

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, each adult client of a facility keeps the same right as any other citizen of North Carolina to exercise all civil rights, including the right to dispose of property, register and vote, bring civil actions, and marry and get a divorce, unless the exercise of a civil right has been precluded by an unrevoked adjudication of incompetency.

A disability rights organization has been key in working so that people in Darlene’s condition are allowed to vote.

I have one question: would the people who took Ms. Pearson to vote allow a stranger to take her into the voting booth and help her cast her vote? 

This has nothing to do with the rights of the disabled--it is about using the disabled.

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