Is Britney Spears allowed to vote? | Britney Spears

Is Britney Spears allowed to vote? | Britney Spears

Comments Off on Is Britney Spears allowed to vote? | Britney Spears

Britney Spears is trapped in a controlling and abusive legal arrangement, argue members of the #FreeBritney movement – one that might be impacting her civil rights. Reporters and fans such as Diet Prada, a pop culture critic on Instagram, say that despite the fact Spears is capable of maintaining a singing career that earns millions of dollars a year, she still needs permission to drive a car, leave her home, hire her own lawyer, and possibly even vote.

Since 2008, Spears has been under a conservatorship, designed for people who cannot take care of themselves, where a court-approved guardian takes control of the conservatee’s finances and healthcare decisions.. The details of Spears’ conservatorship are confidential (calls and messages to her manager, talent agency, court-appointed lawyer and attorney all went unreturned), but it’s possible she has joined the thousands of Americans who are disenfranchised each year due to “incompetence” laws.

Though the 38-year-old is rarely overtly political, in late March, she posted an Instagram message that said, “We will feed each other, re-distribute wealth, strike” – further captioned with the red rose emojis favored by the Democratic Socialists of America. “Comrade Britney knows: together we can build a better world,” the DSA tweeted in response, “because capitalism is Toxic”.

When Spears was placed under a conservatorship, she would’ve been presumed to be ineligible to vote, but in 2016, California law changed. Now, the conservatee is assumed to be competent unless it’s proved to a court that she cannot communicate her desire to vote, which is the only standard she must meet.

However, in other jurisdictions, the conservatee must understand the “nature and effect” of voting. According to Paul S Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who helped develop that standard, that diagnosis boils down to three questions: what’s the purpose of an election? What’s the purpose of voting? And what’s the effect of voting?

“This is a very simple screen,” says Appelbaum. “So you have to be quite impaired, and only a very small proportion of people will fail something like this.” However, the numbers may not be so insignificant, says Michelle Bishop, the voter access and engagement manager for the National Disability Rights Network, a non-profit that aims to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

“It can be hard to track, which really scares me,” she says. According to one source, the latest Election Administration and Voting Survey, 9,569 people were removed from the voting rolls for mental incompetence in 2018. However, Bishop points out that election administrations would likely have access to that information only if they requested it from the judicial system. “We’re concerned that those numbers may not really be accurate,” she says.

More fundamentally, though, Bishop argues that people with disabilities should be held to the same standards as everyone else. “All you have to be able to do is demonstrate your desire to vote,” she says. “You don’t have to prove you understand how our government works. You don’t have to say who you want to vote for and provide really good reasons for why you made that decision.” She laughs. “Quite frankly, we don’t all have good reasons.”

Under California law, Britney Spears’s conservatorship is reviewed yearly or every two years, though she could petition the court at any time to restore her voting rights. It may just be a pop music trope, but Diet Prada points out that pushing against a controlling force is a theme through many of Britney’s hits. “I don’t need permission, make my own decisions,” she sings in one from 2004. “That’s my prerogative.”

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Manoj Prajapati

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