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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 46, Issue 1, January 2020

Lachlan Montgomery Umbers
Pages 205-229

A Citizens’ Assembly for the Cognitively Disabled

Most democracies disenfranchise persons with cognitive disabilities. Several democratic theorists have, for a range of reasons, recently argued that such restrictions ought to be abolished. I agree with such arguments. Some, however, have also expressed the hope that enfranchising such persons might give politicians more powerful incentives to attend to such persons’ interests. I argue that such hopes are likely to be disappointed. If we wish to ensure that such persons’ interests are taken seriously in the political process, we must consider reforms of other kinds. After considering several alternatives, I argue for a deliberative solution—a Citizens’ Assembly for the Cognitively Disabled, modeled upon the 2004 British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform.

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