Missouri mentally-ill voter ruling [US DC] News
Missouri mentally-ill voter ruling [US DC]

Prye v. Blunt, United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Judge Otrie D. Smith, October 26, 2004 [ruling that a mentally-ill man with a court-appointed guardian cannot vote in the November election]. Excerpt:

Missouri is denying Prye the right to register to vote because the State of Illinois adjudged him mentally incapacitated and appointed him a guardian. In Illinois, such a judgment does not automatically deprive a person of his or her right to vote, but in Missouri it does. Plaintiffs argue that Prye was not given notice or the opportunity to be heard before his right to vote was taken from him in Missouri but does not contend that he was denied due process during the Illinois hearing that established his guardianship or in the pending Missouri guardianship proceeding. This leaves the Court unable to ascertain when Prye was denied due process. Prye insists he should have received notice that the Illinois adjudication would effect his rights in Missouri, but he cannot seriously argue that the Constitution required (1) Illinois to advise him of the affect of its adjudication should he move to Missouri, or (2) Missouri to advise him that the Illinois adjudication would affect his right to vote in Missouri. In other words, Plaintiffs have not identified the notice that should have been given or, more importantly, by whom and when it should have been given.

Prye can only challenge Missouri's recognition of the Illinois adjudication of mental incapacity and application of Missouri's laws to determine the affect of that adjudication; however, Prye had and still has avenues to pursue limitations on the guardianship. Because existing procedures, if utilized, afforded Prye an opportunity to be heard on the issue of his right to vote, the Court finds that Plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on the merits of this claim. No decision has been rendered in the Missouri proceeding, so a due process challenge to it is not ripe.

Read the full text of the opinon here [PDF; courtesy of Professor Rick Hansen's Election Law]. Reported in JURIST's Paper Chase here.