Disability and Guardianship Project
Most Will Keep
Over the past decade or more, tens of thousands of adults in conservatorships lost their right to vote in California under an old law that has recently been changed.
The new law (SB 589) went into effect on January 1, 2016. It prohibits judges from taking away the right to vote from anyone who can express a desire to vote.
SB 589 also allows current conservatees who were previously disqualified from voting to ask that their right to vote be given back to them. All they have to do is ask -- in whatever way they are capable of communicating. Someone can help them ask. No attorney is needed. There is no fee.
People who want reinstatement can write to the superior court that placed them into a conservatorship. The letter would say "I want to vote" or "Give me back my right to vote." Include the name of the conservatee and the case number. Send it to the attention of the Probate Court Clerk. Include contact information for the conservatee, conservator, or a caregiver in case the court clerk wants to contact you. The letter should contain the signature or mark of the conservatee or be signed by someone on their behalf. Include a self-addressed and stamped return envelope for the court to use to send you a copy of the order reinstating your right to vote.
Once the court enters such an order, the court will forward the conservatee's name to the Registrar of Voters so that it can be taken off the disqualified list.
When the conservatee receives an order of reinstatement from the court, have someone contact the Registrar's office to get a form to register to vote, since the conservatee will need to file a current registration affidavit. He or she can have someone help fill out the registration form.
Conservatees include seniors who have cognitive
disabilities as well as adults with intellectual and developmental
disabilities. If the conservatee is a client of a regional center, he
or she can ask the case worker to help forward the request for reinstatement
to the appropriate court.
Anyone Can Ask