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

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Maine Question 5 was on the November 4, 1997 election ballot in Maine. It was defeated, with 41.87% of voters in favor.

The amendment was legislatively-referred to the ballot by the Maine Legislature as a prospective amendment to the Maine Constitution.

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.

Election results

Maine Question 5
Defeatedd No196,66258.13%
Yes 141,654 41.87%

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

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?

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.

Judicial nullification

After Mainers chose not to remove from their constitution, in 1997 and 2000, the provision that disqualified all persons under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting, 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 challenging the constitutionality of the relevant part of the Maine Constitution. In federal court, the provision in the constitution was found to violate both the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court determined that the constitutional provision that forbade people who were mentally ill and under guardianship from voting unfairly (and unconstitutionally) targeted "a subset of mentally ill citizens based on a stereotype rather than any actual, relevant incapacity."[1]

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