Archive for Friday, October 15, 2010

Statehouse Live: Kansas mental health advocates push for passage of constitutional amendment

October 15, 2010, 9:00 a.m. Updated October 15, 2010, 10:55 a.m.


— Kansans with mental illnesses on Friday urged voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would delete a provision that allows the Legislature to take away their right to vote.

At a news conference in the Capitol, speakers referred to the current language in the Kansas Constitution as outdated, unjust, shameful, stigmatizing, morally bankrupt and overly broad.

Justin Brokar, a Washburn University student, has been active in politics since he was a teenager, and was the youngest national delegate at the Republican National Convention in 2008.

Brokar said he has struggled with depression and self injury for years but has received help at a community mental health center that allows him to continue his advocacy and education.

Noting that many citizens suffer some form of mental illness, he said, "I don't want to allow the Legislature to interfere with one in five Kansans' right to vote."

Although the Legislature has the authority under the State Constitution to take away voting rights to those with mental illness, it never has.

Still, those advocating for a `yes' vote on Constitutional Amendment No. 2, said that didn't matter.

"I have a personal response to comments that it has never been used or that it is unlikely it would ever be used," said Kathleen Wilson, an education supervisor from Topeka, who suffers form Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. "For those of us who have been given the label of mental illness by others, keeping it in the constitution gives a powerful, subtle message, that we just don't deserve to add to the overt experiences we go through already," she said.

The proposed amendment was put on the Nov. 2 ballot overwhelmingly by the Legislature, and has been endorsed by most candidates.

Still, advocates are concerned that voters may not be fully informed about the measure when they decide it.

"We're still battling the stigma that goes on with mental illness," said Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center.

Advocates said the mental illness language currently in the Kansas Constitution was too broad and could be construed to mean soldiers with PTSD or people with depression, anxiety or Attention Deficit Disorder.

"If we all live long enough, we will have some variety of what could be called a mental illness," said Dr. Roy Menninger, chair of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.


Stuart Evans 7 years, 7 months ago

I love that the story directly beneath this is titled "aww, nuts!"

Ralph Reed 7 years, 7 months ago

Support this amendment. From the short article above:

"The amendment requires approval by a simple majority of voters. It would strike language in the Kansas Constitution allowing lawmakers to deny voting rights to people with mental illness."

My question is at which point do the legislators draw the "mental illness" line? PTSD, for example, is in the DSM IV. We have a lot of veterans and active duty military with PTSD. With a simple voice vote, the legislators can disenfranchise them. Is that right? Depression, ADD, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders are but a few additional examples.

Support the amendment.

begin60 7 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for posting. This kind of thing is happening more and more right here in the good old U.S. of A should one dare to express an opinion unpopular in society, which often means just telling the truth. Challenge the powers that be right here in the southern-influenced lower Midwest and see if court-ordered counselling may not be in the cards. It's called power abuse and official lies.

Alia Ahmed 7 years, 7 months ago

I disagree aboutthe statement " this kind of thing happening more and more in the good old U.S.of A." This amendment is to prevent the legislature from ever enacting a law that says people with mental illnesses can't vote. This amendment makes sure archaic laws that have been used in the past in Kansas and other states will never be enacted again. This is to prevent wrongs that occurred in the past not be repeated. That's progress. Vote yes. This editorial provides history of a previous law that stated people who have guardians were not allowed to vote which ended in 1974. This amendment would keep the legislature from enacting any such law in the future.


equalaccessprivacy 7 years, 7 months ago

It appears the remark above with which you disagree does not reference the amendment issue but instead responds to the Soviet "gulag" idea of treating dissidents like nut cases that is mentioned in the attached Time article.

Clark Coan 7 years, 7 months ago

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notajayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago


Do you want someone evaluating your ability to make sound decisions before YOU are allowed to vote?

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

TinkyWinky and Begin60 said it all, and I'm glad they did. Don't know how you got your truths past Comidant Whitney Mathews, though!

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

Do you want someone evaluating your ability to make sound decisions before YOU are allowed to vote?

And so to sound the sounds of the never-die hokum. My goodness, these mentally ill people never seem to have more rights than they have approaching election day! More money, more people, expanded dumping grounds, more Socialist power, more mentally ill, more need for more nauseum.

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

What other "rights" does this badly-needed population have beside the right to vote when they are miracously deemed as having "sound judgement" on that day.

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

Habeus corpus? Nah A right to refuse dangerous medication? Nah And 2nd Amendment rights? Nupe Any right to a fair trial? Nah Any right against illegal searches? Nupe

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

5th Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

6th Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

8th Amendment; Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Got either of these "rights" ?

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

How about this one?

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

And does this prized population know who to vote for? Without connotations? Little hints?Surely there are no advertisements and campaign and party propaganda addressed to them individually that they don't also receive from other political parties?

IndusRiver 7 years, 7 months ago

....Soviet "gulag" idea of treating dissidents like nut cases that is mentioned in the attached Time article.

As much American as Puddlegum is pretty. Ewen Cameron, anybody?

SWJayhawk13 7 years, 7 months ago

When I was talking to someone about this provision, he looked me dead in the face, and asked me (very seriously), "why would we want to let crazy people vote?". He wasn't joking, either. Even if it has never been used to deny people the right to vote, it could be. Kansas is very discriminatory towards their mental ill. In Kansas, you can divorce your spouse solely on mental illness, and apparently, you can still be denied the right to vote. As a Kansan with severe depression & ADHD, I sure hope this gets removed. Seeing as how I'm a law-abiding citizen, I enjoy having a constitutional right to vote.

And as a side note, I was very disappointed that NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) didn't sponsor a "Yes on 2!" rally in Lawrence. They held them in Olathe, Topeka, Wichita, Garden City, etc. but not Lawrence. I think that was a poor decision on their part. With us being a large (liberal) college town, I think Lawrence would've been a prime location. Almost every person I talked to (on campus and around town) had no idea that this was going to be on the ballot. People will be hesitant to vote on something if they know nothing about it. We need to educate people, we need to get the word out there! This kind of discrimination needs to end NOW!

notajayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, Indus, you have me convinced.

Evidently there are some people who are too bat#### looney to be allowed to vote.

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