A fundamental right Americans enjoy is the right to vote in an election. Thanks to measures like mail-in ballots, even older people in Colorado who cannot make it to a polling place may cast a ballot. However, since guardianships and conservatorships remove some rights from mentally impaired individuals, some older people may worry that they could lose their voting rights if placed under a conservatorship.
Pewtrusts explains that some states do deprive people under conservatorship of their right to vote. In one case in California, a court ruled that a man with autism placed under conservatorship was too mentally incapacitated to participate in the democratic process. Currently, 39 states and Washington D.C. have laws permitting judges to remove voting rights from people who possess varying disabling mental conditions.
However, this is not true for the state of Colorado. Eleven states do not have laws that permit judges to strip voting rights from mentally incapacitated persons, and Colorado is one of them. Therefore, there is nothing in state law mandating that a state judge honor a request from a guardian or a conservator to deny a ward or conservatee the right to cast a ballot.
The main reason courts deny mentally impaired individuals their right to vote is fear of vote fraud. Malicious parties may give ballots to people who suffer from dementia and manipulate them to vote for a certain candidate. Dementia sufferers, not understanding the issues presented to them, may vote in a manner contrary to their personal values. Also, some fraudsters manipulate dementia sufferers to cast a vote on a ballot after they have already done so.
Even though people with cognitive problems may suffer unfair manipulation, the right to vote remains vital and should be protected. If you are concerned about a guardian or conservator taking away your right to vote or the right of a loved one to cast a ballot, you may need consultation with an experienced elder law attorney to understand your options. Keep in mind that this article only provides general information and not legal advice for your situation.