Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya

Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2010

Lawrence Murugu Mute
Pages 1-18

Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Ensuring the Right to Vote for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities In Kenya

Is it self-evident that every Kenyan adult citizen should have the right to vote at national and civic elections or referenda? This is not always the case: certain segments of the population are expressly or implicitly excluded by law or practice from the franchise. This paper suggests that the concept of unsoundness of mind should no longer be the basis for excluding persons with disabilities generally, and those with intellectual disabilities in particular, from voting. It traces provisions in law that disenfranchise persons adjudged to be of unsound mind; and provides interpretation using national law as well as international human rights norms to infer that general or automatic disenfranchisement is a human rights violation. It concludes that Kenya’s electoral authorities must ensure that neither their policies nor the practices of their officials disenfranchise some Kenyan adults from voting by equating such persons’ mental illness or intellectual disabilities with “unsoundness of mind”.