Voting rights and mental illness

    Many states, among them New Jersey and Delaware, restrict voting rights for people with severe mental illnesses.
    And advocates say many people with mental illnesses who can vote don’t take advantage of their right.

    Activist Jeff Bohen wants other people affected by mental illness to get out and vote. He says otherwise, politicians won’t take them or their issues seriously:

    They listen to us with that sympathetic ear as opposed the ear of – hm, we should be concerned about how they are going to vote,” said Bohen.

    Bohen works to get people interested and registered and to get them to the polls on Election Day.

    Temple University professor Mark Salzer studies community integration of people with severe mental illnesses. He says the places where people come for treatment should be part of this effort:

    “Service providers and residential programs do not provide the supports to their residents to get out there and vote,” says Salzer. 

    He added that Pennsylvania providers that receive state and federal funding are required to encourage voter participation, but rarely do so.

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