Voting Rights of Persons Under Guardianship

Voting is a fundamental right of all American citizens. Federal and state law provide important protections for persons with disabilities to ensure the protection of the fundamental right to vote. While Massachusetts law makes persons “under guardianship” ineligible to vote in all elections, this provision has been interpreted by the Elections Division of the Massachusetts Secretary of State to refer only to guardianships that contain specific findings prohibiting voting.

Therefore, a person is eligible to vote unless he/she is subject to a guardianship decree which specifically prohibits voting. 

Further, a person under guardianship is not required to shoulder the burden of obtaining court modification or findings of their guardianship decree explicitly allowing him or her to vote. Local election officials have no discretion to reject voter registration because of guardianship unless the guardianship decree specifically prohibits the person under guardianship from voting.

The Elections Division of the Massachusetts Secretary of State can be reached at 800-462-VOTE (8683) toll-free or 617-727-2828.

Frederick M. Misilo, Jr. is an Officer of Fletcher Tilton PC, Chairperson of the Elder Law and Special Needs Practice Group, and Chairperson of the Trust and Estate Department. He also serves on the firm’s Management Committee. As one of the nation’s leading elder law and special needs attorneys, he focuses his practice on the areas of elder law, special needs planning, estate planning, estate and trust administration, guardianship, and adult service advocacy.

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