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Eighth Circuit Upholds Missouri Law Disqualifying Wards From Voting

ST. LOUIS (CN) - The Eighth Circuit upheld a Missouri law that disqualifies people under court-ordered guardianship from voting.

The state has a long history of disenfranchising people in poorhouses or asylums, and in 1958 legislators amended the constitution to strip voting rights from anyone "who has a guardian... by reason of mental incapacity, appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction." The guardianship criterion would give polling officials "something tangible" on which to assess a voter's mental condition, the state said. Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services and its ward Bob Scaletty claimed the law violated equal-protection rights, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. But Scaletty's full guardianship preserved his right to vote, undermining their argument that the Missouri law categorically disenfranchises people under full guardianship. Sitting by designation for the circuit was Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. See ruling in .

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