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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2018 Oct 31. pii: JAAPL.003780-18. doi: 10.29158/JAAPL.003780-18. [Epub ahead of print]

Voting by People with Mental Illness.

Author information

1
Dr. Okwerekwu is a PGY-3 Resident and Dr. McKenzie is a PGY-4 Resident, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA. Ms. Yates is a MSIII, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr. Sorrentino is an Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr. Friedman is an Associate Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand and The Phillip J. Resnick MD Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University. jokwerekwu@challiance.org.
2
Dr. Okwerekwu is a PGY-3 Resident and Dr. McKenzie is a PGY-4 Resident, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA. Ms. Yates is a MSIII, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr. Sorrentino is an Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr. Friedman is an Associate Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand and The Phillip J. Resnick MD Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University.

Abstract

While voting laws trend toward universal suffrage, there are still some who encounter barriers in exercising the right to vote. Citizens with mental illness or cognitive and emotional impairments are especially vulnerable to exclusion from the political process, contributing to disenfranchisement. Facilitating the process for hospitalized patients to vote can increase their agency and amplify their voices and concerns. Through exercising their civic responsibility, psychiatric patients can have a hand in shaping a community in which they feel valued. In this article we will review the literature about voting, the current voting laws, and our lessons learned facilitating voting by proxy at Cambridge Hospital in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, as well as the obstacles encountered. We will also propose methods to improve implementation of voting by hospitalized psychiatric patients for upcoming elections.

PMID:
30381392
DOI:
10.29158/JAAPL.003780-18

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