Voter Participation: Something Has to Be Done

In California, 70% of eligible voters are registered, and 47% of those turned out in a recent election. Thus about a third of those who could vote do so. These are dismaying numbers.

Dismaying because they are too high.

Why? First, some more dismaying numbers:

When Newsweek recently [2011] asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

Too many ignorant fools are casting votes. People who believe that minimum wage laws create wealth, free trade destroys wealth, or clergymen should be forced to marry gay couples, to pick just a few examples. We need to bar these ignoramuses from the voting booth.

How? For starters, ditch the 26th amendment to the Constitution and the raise the voting age to at least 30. Get the 20-somethings out of the way; too many still believe in free lunches.

Second, change the 24th amendment to require poll taxes rather than forbid them. There is no justice in forcing non-voters to pay election costs.

Third, institute stiff qualification exams. Voters need know the vice president’s name, understand the Cold War, identify July 4 as Independence Day, and a whole lot more. Informed voters would be mostly immune from pandering demagoguery.

Disenfranchisement will lead to alienation and rebellion, some will say. Perhaps, and this could be alleviated by a phase-in of the changes. But then voting will become a privilege that young people can aspire to, as they might aspire to a corporate management position.

Another objection: my proposal is elitist. Of course it is! If there’s one thing we desperately need in this country, it’s a reversal of the egalitarian sentiments that have poisoned so much public discourse. We need to encourage and acknowledge the best and the brightest. Ignorant fools should not be allowed to operate dangerous machinery or pull levers in voting booths.

10 thoughts on “Voter Participation: Something Has to Be Done

  1. Lol. Luckily, there’s not a chance in hell any of that will ever happen. On the other hand, demography will help in getting in getting rid of Ignoramuses in the polling booth: angry old white guys will be increasingly dead.

    • It seems that old reactionary white guys, being chastised constantly in the media for outdated ideologies, with their platformed opinions under more and more criticism, will have no choice but to retreat to blogging online about their archaic viewpoints.

    • @Terry, @William,

      The prompt “Please keep it civil (unless it relates to Jacques)” is there for a reason. How about some substantive rebuttals instead of the petulant name-calling?

      For instance: I think that voter participation is not the problem these days, but rather that voters have too much say in how policy is enacted. Representatives should be engaged in policy, not voters directly. This way, each faction at least has a chance for a voice in the political process.

      Of his proposals, I’d only be open to bumping up the age limit if (IF) it means eliminating the draft. That’s a trade-off I’d be willing to make.

      Warren’s proposals are an attempt to tackle a big problem in our society, and he should be commended for doing so rather than being met with derision in the peanut gallery. Even if he is way off the mark. Let’s have a dialogue about this.

    • It is difficult to debate an opinion that is not substantiated with reason, other than “too many ignorant fools.” Which is, of course… petulant name-calling.

      I’m sure Terry and I are feeling a little singled-out right now.

      Other than that I concur with the first two lines of Colin’s second comment.

  2. You are being deliberately provocative, I suspect!..However, as a practical measure, don’t deprive any citizen of a vote. Rather, grant one or more extra votes to certain categories of citizen. For example, those who serve (or have served) in the armed forces and those who have paid more than $x in Federal tax get additional vote(s).

    • Colin,

      Why on earth should members of the military have more votes than, say, a guy flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s?

    • Lets just say that I thought the post was so flawed, in many respects, that it was provocative rather than serious. The semi-facetious suggestion in my comment was in that vein.

      Warren wants, inter alia, to reduce the influence of 20-somethings “too many of whom believe in free lunches”, but concedes that disenfranchisment will cause “alienation and rebellion”.

      My suggestion avoids the blatant disenfranchisement, but, by giving extra weight to the votes of two easily identifiable/verifiable groups who make a net positive contribution to US society (they’re not free-loaders), goes some way towards indirectly achieving Warren’s goal.

  3. You’re right: people that understand the issues should be singly able to vote on them.

    Hence, your right to cast any vote on gay marriage should be promptly taken away.

Please keep it civil

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