The director of [North Carolina] state facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled said his department will continue to offer annual voter registration and voting assistance for patients and residents. He also said that while efforts are made to notify patients’ guardians about voting activities, a patient’s right to vote takes priority over any objections from guardians.
J. Luckey Welsh, director of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities at the Department of Health and Human Services, told Carolina Journal there are about 3,000 people residing in the state facilities. Voting records obtained by CJ showed only 73 individuals from six facilities cast votes that were accepted for the Nov. 6 election. Sixty-one of those voters were new registrants. “I think we allowed our citizens the right to vote. I am happy we allowed them to do it,” he replied.
The laws and rules governing voting by mentally challenged individuals remain murky, and it’s unclear whether state employees who assisted disabled patients and residents to cast ballots at early voting sites were complying with the law. […]