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.