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Posted: 10/28/2004 1:11:44 AM EDT

Mo. judge denies vote to mentally ill man


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal judge on Tuesday declined to allow a mentally ill man to vote in next week's election but agreed to hear his challenge later to a Missouri law that denies voting rights to some who are mentally ill.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith said presuming the man is competent to vote is risky and "any outcome that permits a potentially invalid ballot to be cast should be avoided."

Steven Prye said he moved to St. Louis from Illinois earlier this year and tried to register to vote, but wasn't allowed because he has a court-appointed guardian in Illinois. A court is considering whether to appoint one for him in Missouri.

Under the Missouri Constitution and state law, those who have a guardian because of "mental incapacity" cannot vote and can face criminal charges if they do.

"It would've been nice if he could vote in this election, ... but we're still looking to change it for the future and for everyone, not just for him," said Tony Rothert, an attorney with the state Guardian and Advocacy Commission in Alton, Ill.

The Missouri attorney general's office declined comment on the ruling.

The suit alleges the Missouri election law violates the U.S. Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the lawsuit, the 51-year-old Prye is a former law professor with schizoaffective disorder who has had a guardian since December 2003. The suit says Prye taught at Vermont Law School and the University of Illinois Law School

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and the American Civil Liberties Union are helping represent Prye.

The Bazelon Center said the suit could have national implications. It said 26 states have a similar prohibition, and if the Missouri suit is successful, other states' policies might be challenged.
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 1:21:41 AM EDT
Even money says the Person-In-Question is a DUmmy Moderator.
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 5:47:32 PM EDT
You mean that Kerry supporters can't vote anymore?

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