. . .We Can Add Them To Our Stockpile Here On Long Island
Idiots, along with the insane, are not afforded the right to vote under the New Jersey Constitution, something New Jersey voters may seek to change by referendum on November 6th.
Assuming New Jersey throws out their "idiots," where will they go? Who would have a bunch of idiots as voters, anyway?
Apparently, there've been "idiots" in Jersey, at least in the Constitutional sense, since 1844. We're pretty much certain that, here in New York, we've harbored idiots -- and permitted them to vote -- for far longer.
In fact, by informal survey, and a close examination of the voting records for the last generation, or so, we can say without hesitation that many of those idiots live, and vote, right here on our Long Island.
New Jersey, along with Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio, don't allow "idiots" to vote. [Clearly, Florida does!]
If the Garden State gives idiots the boot from their Constitution, we say, offer them asylum (with driver's licenses) on Long Island.
True. We already have more than our fair share of idiots. But what a voting block they make.
So, the next time you're shaking your head over the election results, mumbling words under your breath to the effect of, "They must all be idiots." You may be absolutely right.
Give us your tired, your poor, your idiots yearning to vote. . .
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NJ voters to decide fate of 'Idiot' language in Constitution
By TOM HESTER Jr.
Associated Press Writer
TRENTON, N.J. -- In about two weeks, New Jersey voters will decide whether to eliminate insensitive phrasing in the state Constitution that characterizes people with disabilities as "idiots" and "insane." The offensive language, adopted in the Constitution in 1844, is aimed at barring people with limited mental capacity from voting: "No idiot or insane person shall enjoy the right of suffrage." At least seven other states _ Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio _ have the words "idiot" or "insane" in their constitutions to define who can vote.
On Nov. 6, New Jersey voters will decide whether to replace the wording in its Constitution with a phrase explaining how people deemed by a judge "to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting" would be barred from casting ballots. It is the fourth of four statewide ballot questions.
Advocates for the disabled contend the current language perpetuates myths. "The perception is still out there that if you have a disability that you can't fully function, that you can't be a participating member of the community," said Colleen O'Dell-Multer, a Brick resident who has multiple sclerosis and is legally blind. "That perception is totally inaccurate."
Kerry Walker, a Cinnaminson resident paralyzed in a diving accident, has talked with lawmakers about the need for the change in language. "Idiot and insane, as well as being offensive, are inaccurate and should be removed," he said.
The proposed change was sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, who has advocated for numerous mental health reforms. "We can hopefully erase the stigma attached to mental and cognitive disabilities," Codey said. "The fact that this language has remained in our constitution for so long is a disgrace. I'm confident that the people of New Jersey will agree with me." Another sponsor, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, called the language "as outdated as it is offensive."
It's unclear whether the language has been used to prevent anyone from voting. In 1976, an appellate court allowed 33 residents of Burlington County developmental center to vote, ruling that living in an institution didn't make someone incapable of casting ballots. "A mentally retarded person need not be an `idiot' and a mentally ill person need not be `insane,"' the court opinion stated. An appellate court relied on that ruling in 2000 to allow five Trenton Psychiatric Hospital patients to vote.
The New Jersey proposal hasn't spurred any opposition, and it passed the Assembly 79-0 and the Senate 36-0. Still, supporters aren't resting easy, noting New Mexico voters in 2002 rejected a plan to remove "idiots" and "insane persons" from that state's Constitution by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent. "These words do not belong in our constitution," said David Tag of Voorhees. "As a person with a disability, I find them offensive."
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