Disabled and Disenfranchised: Families Fight To Restore Voting Rights

In Southern California, another conservatee was fighting for the right to vote. Former National Public Radio producer David Rector lost his voting rights in 2011 after suffering a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to walk or speak. His fiancée, Roz Alexander-Kasparik, became his conservator, and said she did not question when their attorney checked a box on a form that ultimately disqualified Rector from voting in San Diego.

It was only after they met congressman and civil and voting rights activist Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, that Alexander-Kasparik was inspired to fight for Rector’s voting rights. She contacted an attorney and learned about the new California law.

The key section was this: Judges are still able to take away voting rights if the court finds “clear and convincing evidence that the individual cannot communicate, with or without reasonable accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process.”

On its face, it seemed that all Rector had to do was express a desire to vote, and the court would rule him competent. Alexander-Kasparik did not expect it would be so easy, and she was right.

In August, she led a march to the San Diego Superior Court, pushing Rector seven blocks in a wheelchair, surrounded by supporters and reporters. Rector wore a white T-shirt that read “I want to vote” in black letters. He used an eye-tracking device to speak to the judge in court.

“I, David Rector, want my voting rights restored immediately,” Alexander-Kasparik recalled he said, in the device’s electronic voice. But Judge Julia Kelety was skeptical. She told Alexander-Kasparik to submit more evidence.

Read More on Revealnews.org

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