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Election advocacy for mentally ill raises questions

People with disabilities have a heightened interest in selecting the candidates who will govern the programs that the disabled depend on.  Nevertheless, some advocates say that one class of disabled people — those with mental disabilities — are too often discouraged from registering or voting.

On the other hand, some question the propriety of actively assisting the mentally ill in casting ballots, saying there is a danger of undue influence or outright fraud.

The Associated Press reported last week on efforts in Virginia and nationwide to make sure those with mental disabilities know their rights and exercise them on Election Day.

Advocates take issue with comments like the one from Sen. Steve Martin, R-Chesterfield: “If they were competent to do it, they wouldn’t be needing this help anyway.”

By Peter Vieth

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