Thursday, October 14, 2010

Voting rights for the mentally ill in Kansas

Supporters of an amendment on the ballot which secures the right to vote for thousands of Kansans worry an unfair stigma may keep it from passing in November. The amendment would prevent the mentally ill from ever losing their right to vote in the state. Right now, the Kansas Constitution allows legislators to yank suffrage rights away.

No one is on the record against the amendment, but advocates for the mentally ill are still worried it won’t pass.

Lynn Kohr is leading a peer-to-peer group in Wichita for those dealing with mental illnesses. She suffers from schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder. With medication she lives a productive life, but says she continually deals with discrimination from those who don’t understand mental illness.

“People think people with mental illness are dangerous or uneducated or violent things like that people still honestly believe,” she said. “The actual truth to that is it‘s very, very rare and usually people that have that kind of problem are in treatment.”

Currently in Kansas, people like Linda can lose their right to vote simply because of their diagnosis. Although no laws have been passed to that effect, the Kansas Constitution allows lawmakers to take away suffrage rights of anyone diagnosed with mental illness.

Read more.


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