Law bans idiots from voting - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Law bans idiots from voting

There's a controversy and a fight over who can and cannot vote in Mississippi. The debate is over a law that bans idiots or insane people from voting.

At least seven states have that in their state constitution: the words idiot and insane. It's aimed at barring people with limited mental capacity from voting.

Next month, voters in one state may change the language to something less offensive.

Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution says "every inhabitant of this state excepts idiots and insane persons do have the right to vote."

"It should remain the same because it's not offensive," says Mississippi voter Jose Dehoyos.

New Jersey will let voters decide next month if they should replace "idiots or insane person" with "lack the capacity to understand the act of voting."

Mississippians like Jacky Perrigo, who has a relative that is limited mentally, insists the state shouldn't call him names like that.

"Change the wording. He knows the difference between who's right and who to vote for. He knows right from wrong and I don't call him an idiot," says Perrigo.

The Mississippi state legislature and an attorney for the House of Representatives say voters will not decide this issue.

In fact, they have not touched that part of the constitution since 1972 when they lowered the voting age to 18.

"It's not constitutional to call someone an idiot or an insane person," says Sherry Nelson.

Offensive or not, idiots and insane person are expected to remain on one of the state's most revered government documents.

Click here to email Andrew Douglas.

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