On Tuesday, April 10, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill which reforms voting rights and guardianship laws in Arizona. House Bill 2377, sponsored by Representative Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) now permits the Courts to determine, by clear and convincing evidence, that a person can retain sufficient understanding to exercise their right to vote.
“Previously, under a limited guardianship, persons were completely barred from selecting their political leaders, even when they followed the news and knew who they wanted to vote for,” said Art Gode, board member of the Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL). “My son, Clint, is a perfect example, which is why I wanted ACDL to lead the fight to change this law.”
In written testimony to members of the House and Senate, Peri Jude Radecic, executive director of ACDL, said the bill is now consistent with House Bill 2181 that was passed in 2003 which promoted the establishment of limited guardianships.
“At that time, the legislature recognized that there is a range of capacity. In addition, medical advances, along with improvements in assistive technology, now allow many individuals with disabilities to live a nearly independent life,” said Radecic.
“We have always believed that individuals with disabilities, who are under a full or limited guardianship, have the same right to vote in our city, state and federal elections.”
The bill was a collaborative effort between ACDL, The ARC of Arizona and the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State.
The bill becomes law on the “general effective date” which is 90 days after the end of the current state legislative session. The legislature is still in session.