National Civic Summit - Know Your Rights
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - National Civic Summit - Know Your Rights
Know Your Voting Rights
From the Ofﬁce of the Minnesota Secretary of State 2008 Voter Information
Are citizens allowed to vote if they…
● Have a brain injury?
● Are experiencing severe memory loss?
● Are developmentally disabled?
● Or have some other cognitive impairment?
In Minnesota, only a court may decide whether an individual is competent to vote.
No one else may make this decision, including spouses, children, caregivers, doctors, or nurses, even if
they personally are convinced that the individual is not competent to vote. Individuals who are under
guardianship, conservatorship or for whom someone else has power of attorney retain their right to vote
unless it is speciﬁcally revoked by a court. Minnesota Statutes, section 524.5-313 (c) (8)
Voters are entitled to assistance to cast their ballots.
Under Minnesota law, voters may receive assistance in marking their ballots by any person of their choosing—
other than an agent of their employer, their union or a candidate. No person may assist more than three
voters in marking their ballots. Alternatively, voters may choose to get assistance from two election judges
or may use the AutoMARK ballot marking device found in each polling place. Minnesota Statutes, section
Persons assisting voters may not in any way try to inﬂuence the voter’s choices.
Doing so is a felony. As such, those organizing efforts to provide assistance to voters should consider
providing safeguards, such as having two individuals provide assistance to voters together, to avoid any
appearance of impropriety. Minnesota Statutes, sections 204.C.15; 204C.41
Persons assisting voters must not mark the ballot, if the voter cannot communicate
his or her intent.
It is not enough to “know” how the voter wants or might want to vote. The voter must be able to express
their preference and direct the person providing assistance to mark it. If the voter cannot communicate his
or her intent, in a way in which the assistant can understand, the assistant must not mark the ballot—doing
otherwise is a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statutes, section 204C.16
Adapted from “Voting and Cognitive Impairments: An Election Administrator’s Perspective” by Vermont
Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz, appearing in McGeorge Law Review, Volume 38.
Ofﬁce of the Minnesota Secretary of State | Elections Center | 180 State Ofﬁce Building | 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155 | 1-877-600-VOTE or 651-215-1440 | MN Relay Service 711 | email@example.com | www.sos.state.mn.us