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Unpublished Paper
Unfulfilled Promise: Mental Disability Voting Rights and the Halving of HAVA’s Potential
ExpressO (2014)
  • Benjamin O Hoerner, University of Pennsylvania
In 2012, the heated presidential election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney reanimated the debate surrounding the voting rights of mentally disabled citizens in the United States. A decade earlier, in October 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), aiming to protect the voting rights of the country’s disabled population. At the time of its enactment, legislators and commentators lauded HAVA as “the most important voting rights bill since the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.” However, since its passage, HAVA has been subjected to a flurry of commentary, including critiques that the legislation fundamentally failed to address the needs of the mentally disabled. This article considers the issues surrounding HAVA’s enactment and effectiveness, ultimately illuminating its failure to address the voting rights of the mentally disabled in a manner that parallels its support of the physically disabled. Soon, the elderly population of the United States, which is set to drastically increase its proportionate size in the country over the course of the next twenty years, will demand answers to the many uncertainties surrounding mental disability voting rights. Consequently, in its final section, the article suggests a series of amendments to HAVA that would utilize novel protections to clarify and solidify the voting rights of mentally impaired citizens throughout the United States.
  • Election Law,
  • HAVA,
  • Disability,
  • Voting RIghts
Publication Date
February 16, 2014
Citation Information
Benjamin O Hoerner. "Unfulfilled Promise: Mental Disability Voting Rights and the Halving of HAVA’s Potential" ExpressO (2014)
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