Voting with an 'Unsound Mind'? A Comparative Study of the Voting Rights of Persons with Mental Disabilities

39(3) UNSW Law Journal 1038 (2016)

34 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2017

See all articles by Trevor Ryan

Trevor Ryan

University of Canberra

Andrew Henderson

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice; Australian National University, College of Law

Wendy Bonython

University of Canberra

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

While Australia has a system of universal franchise, in the sense of a system of voting that is broadly inclusionary, there are some notable exceptions – minors and some convicted criminals are excluded, for example. While the political participation of these excluded groups sometimes attracts attention in the media, there is another group that has been even more marginalised, both within society and within debates over the franchise. This group is persons with mental disability or, more precisely, with actual or assumed impaired decision-making capacity resulting from chronic or acute mental illness, dementia, intellectual disability or brain injury. This appears to be changing as individual nations (including Australia) assess their compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on a range of issues and as a greater number of citizens experience dementia in an ageing population. This article seeks to contribute to this reform momentum by comparing the laws relating to this issue across jurisdictions, particularly Japan and Australia, to argue for a political franchise without discrimination against persons with mental disabilities.

Keywords: Voting, Disability, Australia, Franchise

JEL Classification: K00, K39, Z38

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Trevor and Henderson, Andrew and Bonython, Wendy, Voting with an 'Unsound Mind'? A Comparative Study of the Voting Rights of Persons with Mental Disabilities (2016). 39(3) UNSW Law Journal 1038 (2016), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3041231

Trevor Ryan

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Andrew Henderson (Contact Author)

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice ( email )

Australia

Australian National University, College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Wendy Bonython

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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