Like many people with autism, Greg Demer is bright but has difficulty communicating. He has a passion for the history of military aircraft, but he can’t quite keep up a conversation with new people. When he meets someone, he’ll quote from movies or ask them about their favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
His mother, Linda Demer, worried that he wouldn’t be able to make complicated decisions about his finances and health care once he turned 18. So, in 2005, a judge in Los Angeles, where they live, granted her conservatorship over Greg.
“I wanted to protect him,” she said of her son, who is now 31.
But in the conservatorship process, the judge also stripped away Greg’s right to vote. He was not only unfit to make decisions about his health care and finances, the judge ruled, but he also was unfit to participate in the democratic process.