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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Effects of Conservatorship on the Right to Vote

With the 2016 Presidential race in the rearview, many are contemplating the various factors that went into play to trigger the dramatic and unexpected result. In the months leading up to Election Day, issues surrounding voter rights – particularly for those convicted of a felony – were at the forefront of political analysis and opinion. One less-publicized issue – which could be very relevant for thousands of Californians – is whether being under a conservatorship effects one’s right to vote, particularly if the conservatorship was entered due to underlying mental health issues.

Currently, 39 states outright prohibit individuals with a mental disability (e.g., dementia, severe autism, Down’s Syndrome) from voting, while the remaining states require those with a mental disability to prove that they have both the ability and desire to cast their ballot. In California, Section 1910 of the Probate Code, along with Sections 2208 and 2209 of the Election Code govern this situation, and place California in the latter category. For those under a conservatorship, the law states that he or she is “disqualified from voting if a court determines that he or she is not capable of completing the voter registration affidavit.” In order to make this determination, the court must review the individual’s capability during the yearly or biennial review of the conservatorship. During these proceedings, the conservator must make a recommendation as to whether the individual is able to adequately complete the affidavit, which requires knowledge of one’s address, personal information and political party.

Conservatorships in California can be especially constraining, beyond just the right and ability to vote. Not only are conservators able to manage and control the ward’s financial and personal matters (in their best interests, of course), but conservators are granted substantially broad powers to make pivotal decisions on behalf of the individual under their direction. To learn more about ways to avoid conservatorship, please contact one of our experienced attorneys today!

Contact Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Today!

To learn ways you can avoid conservatorship in the future, please contact our San Ramon office right away: 925-275-5509.


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