chapter  7
14 Pages

Dignity and the Right to VoteDignity and the Right to Vote

ByLinda Barclay

Focussing on the right to vote, this chapter defends the extension of the franchise to all people with cognitive disabilities. It justifies extending voting rights to all people with cognitive disabilities by arguing that any benefits of denying some people the right to vote are outweighed by the disadvantages of identifying and excluding some individuals. The chapter shows that equal status is crucially important, and sometimes one can take significant steps to protect it, even whilst acknowledging that serious cognitive impairment might otherwise be a legitimate reason to treat people differently. According to the affected interests principle, those individuals whose interests are affected by the polity's decisions should have the right to be included in the decision-making of that polity, a principle defended by some of the most influential democratic theorists. The chapter argues that the accusation of discrimination is not persuasive when directed at a capacity test that does not itself impose a discriminatory standard.