Disabled Voting Questioned

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 1:53pm

Mother says her son doesn't have the mental capacity to vote and could be taken advantage of.

A voting event put on by an Iowa organization that helps people with disabilities is concerning some parents.

Last week North Star Community Services set up a satellite voting location in Waterloo so clients, who may feel uncomfortable at a polling place, could vote in a more familiar setting.

Doreen Towsley-Cook's son Tim works at North Star.

He was born with Williams Syndrome, a condition that causes a developmental delay.

He voted at North Star.

Towsley-Cook is concerned her son does not have the mental capacity to fully understand the issues and should not have been allowed to vote.

"I'm sure they thought was giving them an opportunity to make a choice, the folks at North Star, including Tim. I just don't think have a full understanding of what the platforms are," said Towsley-Cook.

Officials who helped organize the satellite voting event say they were only helping those who have a disability exercise their right to vote.

They say they did not influence how they voted in anyway.

David McCalley is on the board of the Arc of the Cedar Valley.

It helped organize the satellite voting. McCalley's son, who has down syndrome, also took the opportunity to vote.

"Bottom line is if some citizen chooses to vote, no one has the right to take away that privilege. It is a civil right and it would be illegal to interfere with it, parent or otherwise," said McCalley.

Everyone in Iowa who is 18 years or older is given the right to vote.

Convicted felons have that right taken away.

Also a court can rule a person incompetent to vote, but it rarely happens.

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