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Maine Repeal Mentally Ill Under Guardianship Voting Limitation, Question 5 (1997)

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The Maine Repeal Mentally Ill Under Guardianship Voting Limitations Referendum, also known as Question 5, was on the November 4, 1997 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.[1] The measure would have repealed the language that barred persons under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from being able to vote. This would have amended Section 1 of Article II of the Maine Constitution.[2][3]

Aftermath

Two years later, the state legislature referred a similar amendment, Maine Repeal of Mental Illness Voting Restrictions Amendment (2000), to the ballot. It, also, was defeated.

Court challenge

The Disability Rights Center of Maine filed a lawsuit in federal court in Maine on behalf of three individuals who were under guardianship because of mental illness in 2000. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the relevant part of Section 1 of Article II of the Maine Constitution. Ultimately, the case failed to repeal or modify this constitutional language.[4]

Election results

Maine Question 5 (1997)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No196,66258.13%
Yes 141,654 41.87%

Election results via: Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, Referenda Votes on Acts of the Maine Legislature 1910-

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3]

Question 5: Constitutional Amendment

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove the language providing that all persons under guardianship for reasons of mental illness are disqualified from voting? [5]

Constitutional changes

The full text of the constitutional changes proposed by this measure can be read here.

Intent and content

The following description of the intent and content of this measure was provided in the Citizen's Guide to the referendum election:

This proposed constitutional amendment would delete a provision currently a part of the Maine Constitution that a person is ineligible to vote if under guardianship for reasons of mental illness. If the provision is deleted, all persons under guardianship for reasons of mental illness will be eligible to vote. [5]

—Maine Secretary of State, [3]

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