With the Fall elections approaching, I thought it would be a good time to address voting rights of people under guardianship and/or conservatorship in Minnesota.
Can a person that is under guardianship and/or conservatorship in Minnesota vote?
Yes. As long as the Court has not restricted the right to vote of someone under guardianship, that person may do so. See Minn. Stat. 524.5-313(c )(8)
Here is what the Minnesota Secretary of State says on someone under guardianship voting.
Can a person that is under guardianship and/or conservatorship in Minnesota have the assistance of someone else in voting?
Yes. You can bring your guardian, a family member, a friend or neighbor to help you vote. They can go in the booth with you and help you fill out your ballot. There is even something called “Curbside Voting”, for people who can’t easily get out of their vehicle but want to vote. Here is what the Minnesota Secretary of State says about helping someone vote and curbside voting.
When does a Court restrict the right of someone under guardianship to vote?
Courts typically only restrict a person’s right to vote in extreme circumstances. Usually the person has to be severely impaired, so that if they were given information about two candidates, they could not understand the difference and pick one. In some counties (Hennepin), the Court will have the petitioner address the ability of the respondent to vote at the hearing on the petition for guardianship. If the Court determines that a person does not have the capacity to exercise his/her voting rights, the Court will remove that right. When the Court does remove the right of someone to vote, the Court sends that person’s name to the Secretary of State’s office and the person is removed from the list of eligible voters.
If you want to be a guardian or conservator for someone in Minnesota, you have to complete a guardianship and conservatorship background study. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from clients about guardianship and conservatorship background studies in Minnesota.
- I have to do a background study for my job, does that count? No, unfortunately not. Even if you have to do a background study for your job, you need to complete the background study that is required under Minnesota guardianship statutes.
- Once I do the background study, am I done, or do I have to do it again in the future? The current requirement is that you do the background study ever 2 years. Be sure to complete it before your 2 year anniversary of being appointed, so that the Court doesn’t issue an Order to Show Cause, requiring you to come in to Court and explain why you haven’t done another background study.
- Are there any exceptions that would exempt me from having to complete a background study? There are a few exceptions. The primary exception is if you are the parent of a developmentally disabled child who has lived with you in the family home for his entire life.
- Where do I get the form for the background study? You can get the form on the Minnesota State Court Website. The directions for completing the form and for instructions on where to send it are on the second page of the form.
- Where can I find out more information about the background study that is required for Minnesota guardianships and conservatorships? Minn. Stat. 524.5-118 governs the background study requirement and will provide you with more information on what is required.