A legislator will get another shot next week at an amendment to the state constitution she’s been seeking for 10 years. Dubuque Representative Pam Jochum is the mother of a child with a mental disability and has long been an advocate for the disabled wants to change the language the restricts the mentally disabled from voting.
Jochum says she wants to eliminate the words "insane or idiot" and instead say "any person who has been judged mentally incompetent" is not eligible to vote. Jochum has been trying since 1998 to amend the language.
Jochum, a democrat, says as a society we have learned a great deal and have come to know that people with a mental illness or some kind of developmental disability are important members of society and are not insane or idiots. She says they just have some "additional issues in life that they need to deal with, and I think we need to respect that."
To change the Iowa Constitution, an amendment must be adopted by two separate general assemblies of the legislature. Jochum says once that is accomplished, the issue would go on the November ballot in 2008 for voter approval. Jochum came close to bringing the issue forward in 2006, but a clerical issue kept it off the ballot.