Man's Vote Could Determine State House Leadership
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 8, 2004
POLSON, MONTANA--The next time you doubt that one vote makes a difference, remember this story.
The vote of one man, who happens to have a mental disability, could determine the leadership within Montana's House of Representatives, the Missoulian reported.
As of Monday, Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore led Democrat Jeanne Windham by one vote in last Tuesday's election for the District 12 House seat.
It has already been determined that Republicans will have 50 members in the House. If Windham wins in District 12, Democrats will also have 50 members in the House, which means that the newly elected Democratic governor will name the Speaker of the House. If Jore wins, however, Democrats will only have 49 members there, and the leadership will remain with Republicans.
An election judge had challenged the competency of the one voter, who works at a Ronan sheltered workshop, after a case manager signed for the man on his provisional ballot.
The county election administrator on Friday decided that the case manager provided legitimate assistance to the voter.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires state-funded programs that provide services to people with disabilities to have voter registration forms, to assist people in completing the forms, and deliver the forms to elections officials. Actual assistance in the voting booth, however, can be provided by poll workers.
The right to vote is guaranteed to adults by the U.S. Constitution. A mental disability does not prohibit an adult from voting, unless if the person has been deemed incompetent by the courts.
Election officials were expected to check court records Monday to determine whether the man had formally been ruled incompetent.
"HD 12 hinges on provisional votes" (Missoulian)