(Do you foresee jokes about New Jersey becoming a red state by 2008 as a result?)
Thanks to a ruling last week, “idiots” have been granted suffrage rights in the state of New Jersey. Prior to last week, this was strictly forbidden by New Jersey’s constitution.
In 1844, language was added to the state constitution to specify who had the right to vote. It’s interesting to see how language changes over time. Text of the old law claimed, “No idiot or insane person shall enjoy the right of suffrage,” and the revised text reads, “No person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting shall enjoy the right of suffrage.”
The word idiot no longer has the same meaning that it carried in the 19th century, mentally ill. Yet, other states carry the same antiquated language, including Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio.
Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published January 16, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @flexo on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.