I've shared Brenda's story here at Moms4McCain, and wanted Brenda to share a little bit more about her family, what happened, and why it matters. Thanks Brenda for taking the time to share your thoughts, and especially for your family's service to our country.
Tell us about yourself. My name is Brenda Lyddon. I moved from Baltimore, MD to Deep River, IA 5 yrs ago. I have a daughter now 13 yrs old and I wanted a safer and better education for her. I also have a 26 yr old disabled son. I knew he would have a better chance of living in a group home that is smaller and safer here in Iowa. I have a 22 yr old son who is in the Army and is currently deployed in Iraq. This is his 2nd tour and it is for 15 months. He believes in what he is doing for he just re-enlisted again last month in Iraq.
Tell us about your involvement in politics. Has this year been any different for you? I really started getting political during the 2004 election. I joined the Poweshiek County Republican Party. I did door-to-door canvassing and a few phone calls. This election I don't think I have slept in the last 2 months. I have gone door-to-door, made phone calls, joined many grassroots websites, blogging and made sure absentee ballots were sent to our military in theater. My 13 yr old daughter helps a lot. She was also elected as the Republican Jr. Caucus Chairperson for our district.
Who do you support in this election and why? I am backing the McCain/Palin ticket this election. There are a lot of important issues, but I have to say my reasons are more personal. First, I believe that my son's and fellow soldiers' lives are better served and safer in the hands of a decorated war hero and fellow blue star mom. John McCain has 2 sons serving at this time and Sarah Palin has a son serving in Iraq. Who better to be our CIC than a man who has worn the uniform and familar with foreign affairs. Also, with a disabled son I have had to fight the education system every step of the way. Sarah Palin will help ease the challenges we parents face everyday.
Tell us about your son and his "voting" experience. My son Kris is 26 yrs old and mentally and physically challenged. He receives SSI and is listed as mentally retarded and cerebral palsy. He lives in a small group home in Grinnell.
I have never registered him to vote because he does not have the mental capacity to chose for himself. The home he has lived in for almost 2 yrs recently registered him to vote. When I found this out I told them I do not want him to vote. Against my wishes, a staff member not only took him to vote, but told him who to vote for and actually voted for him.
I feel he was politicized. It does not matter who he voted for. I take my voting privilege very seriously. My son doesn't have a clue of what a president does. He is easily influenced. I will do everything in my power to get a law enacted so these individuals are never used again for political gain. My son's only concern is watching Texas Ranger and the Price is Right. He needs a guardian just to survive everyday life.
What action can we take to address this? What advice would you give to other families of adults with disabilities? Every family member who has a loved one in one of these homes or a senior facility needs to find out the election rights for disabled individuals in their state. Unfortunately, in my state my son does have the right to vote. I now have to challenge his vote with my county auditor. If I am able to challenge, it then goes to court where a judge determines if my son's vote can be overturned and deems him either competent or incompetent to vote in the future.
So please check on your loved ones and see if they are being used in this election. Our loved ones are supposed to have their everyday survival needs taken care of. Caretakers choosing for them in an election is not what they are paid to do.
Thank you Brenda for sharing your story. I hope justice is served for your son and your family. If you suspect voter fraud of any kind, by any party, against people with disabilities, please contact your local authorities, call 1-866-976-VOTE and/or use these resources to make your report.