Los Angeles Superior Court unlawfully strips voting rights from thousands of disabled Americans who are under adult guardianship, an advocacy group claims in a complaint to the Department of Justice. The Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute, “as next friend of limited conservatees under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Superior Court,” sent a formal complaint against Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Project director Dr. Nora Baladerian said in a statement: “Being told that you are less than other Americans and that you cannot exercise your right to vote has a detrimental emotional and psychological effect on people with disabilities. We trust that Attorney General Eric Holder will take action to protect the rights of these deserving American citizens.” According to the 8-page complaint, thousands of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities lose their right to vote after parents petition probate court to allow them to make legal, financial and medical decisions for their adult children.
The advocacy group claims the violations stem in part from court conservatorship workshops, in which parents are prompted to check off a box confirming their adult child is unable to complete an affidavit of voter registration.
Judges rely on that stroke of a pen to find that conservatees are disqualified from voting, according to the complaint.
Disqualifying adults with developmental disabilities in this way violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, because the court is using a literacy test to make a determination, and court-appointed attorneys disregard federal laws that allow parents to assist their adult children in filling out voter registration forms, according to the complaint.
The project’s legal director Thomas Coleman said there was no mention of the Voting Rights Act when he attended a seminar for Probate Volunteer Panel attorneys hosted by the Superior Court and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Full Article: Courthouse News Service.