Require basic test to vote

I wonder whether it might be better if there was a basic test required before people were allowed to vote. If a basic knowledge of civics and economics was required before people could vote, I don’t think we’d be in the state we are in today. It’s probably unconstitutional, but perhaps we could make an amendment? I mean, do we really want uninformed people voting?

Two articles I read recently got me thinking about this. The first was an opinion piece by Jane Chastain called “We the Ignorant.” In it, she states,

One can only imagine how our founders would feel if they could see our attempts to chase people down, who have demonstrated no interest in the political process, in order to get them to register to vote. That is what was accomplished when Congress passed the motor-voter bill which was signed into law by President Clinton. Motor-voter required that anyone applying for a driver’s license be offered a voter registration form. As a result, we put more politically ignorant people on our voting roles and we have continued to add more each and every year.

It would be unthinkable to give someone a license to drive an automobile without first requiring the applicant to pass a basic driving test. The results would be disastrous. Likewise, it is equally disastrous to register people to vote without making sure they understand the political rules of the road and are otherwise qualified.

The second was a story about a report that found that most college students failed a basic civics test. What do people go to college for, anyway? I agree with the writer’s observation that

…while our nation’s most elite colleges are not imbuing our children with a knowledge of our history and our government, the study makes it clear that those universities are becoming round the clock factories churning out poorly instructed liberals with little civic knowledge and even less faith and less devotion to principles of liberty than those Americans who didn’t go to college.

Incidentally, you can take the test yourself here. It’s scary to think that 71% of those surveyed failed it.

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7 Responses to “Require basic test to vote”

  1. Kansas Bob says:

    I answered 27 out of 33 correctly — 81.82% – some of those questions were a bit obtuse for me anyways.

    That said I think that to some degree we are all ignorant because none of us really know the people running for office. I would not support any sort of voter testing.. a lot of really smart people are not too wise when they vote.. and some ” history ignorant” folks are pretty wise.

    • casey says:

      Yeah, I know what you mean. But I just wonder how someone almost completely oblivious when it comes to civics can make an informed decision on whom to vote for. I think certain politicians prey on people’s ignorance of history and economics.

  2. Leah says:

    I took the quiz and with just a high school education I scored 72%. I
    agree with Kansas Bob. A lot of otherwise intelligent people can make
    mistakes in their voting patterns. I do, however, feel there should be
    more emphasis on the extreme weight of responsibility we as American
    citizens have in our government. Too often we are taught that what we do
    has no affect on anyone around us. The sad reality actually is that we
    do influence others by our choices. This can be seen by our
    present political and economic atmosphere. We have a governing who won’t
    listen to the people they are elected to represent… and for the most
    part we voted them in.

  3. Russ says:

    I have a hard time seeing how knowing what Lincoln and Douglass debated FIRST proves Im worthy to vote. As well as The New Deal.I couldnt even finish the test because I found it so irrelevant to being capable to know who is a qualified candidate. If we dont pre-screen people having babies, why are we looking for a test to qualify people to vote. I think what the Tea Partiers are over looking is that probably a majority of their people would not pass!

    • casey says:

      Hi Russ,

      Thanks for stopping by. People who are ignorant of history are destined to repeat its mistakes.

      I edited your comment to remove the sexual reference. In the future, please refrain from using such language on this blog.

  4. stormcloud says:

    I scored a 69 – but then again I haven’t taken high school American History yet. It’s an interesting idea having a basic test for voting. I like that a lot actually..

  5. Karla says:

    Good post. It is sad how uninterested and ill equipped Americans are in our duty to be well informed voting citizens. We take our freedom for granted and do little to protect it. I must say it does seem like more people are interested in politics than ever before with the advent of the Tea Party and other concerned citizens in regard to the current Administration.


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