After Guardianship: Can My Adult Disabled Child Still Vote?

As you may recall, I am the parent of a 21-year-old disabled child.  I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who also has a 21-year-old disabled child.  We were speaking about the upcoming election.   She shared with me that another acquaintance of ours had registered her 23-year-old disabled child to vote.  My friend asked me, “Can our kids still vote even though we have obtained guardianship over them?”

The answer is that it depends on the type of guardianship that was obtained.   In a general guardianship, there is a finding that the disabled adult lacks capacity to govern or manage his or her person and financial affairs.  In this case, the appointed guardian exercises all rights and powers of the disabled adult.  In all likelihood, the right to vote has been extinguished in this type of guardianship.

With a limited guardianship, the court makes a determination that the disabled adult can perform some but not all of the tasks for self-care and managing his or her finances.   In this case, the right to vote may have been preserved in the court order.  My recommendation would be to review the court order and see if the right to vote has been preserved.  The right to vote should be expressly written into the court order.

For future guardians to be, if you believe that your disabled young adult may want to retain the right to vote, this discussion should be had with the attorney handling your child’s guardianship application so that there is a chance of preserving that right.  There should be a discussion with the attorney about the appropriateness of retaining the right to vote.  If it is determined that it would be appropriate, you should make sure that there is specific language stated in the court order.