Term limits for voters

There was another recent thread discussing the idea of term limits for elected officials. As I have in the past, I raised the point that we shouldn’t blame politicians for our problems - we’re the ones who elected them.

So maybe we need to follow through on this. Maybe we should start limiting people’s ability to vote. As a ballpark proposal, let’s say that every American citizen gets six votes on their eighteenth birthday. Which means they can register to vote on six Election Days throughout their lifetime. On that Election Day, they can vote for as many candidates running for different offices as they want.

Pluses: It would make voting be seen as a valuable commodity rather than as an annoying chore. People would take the time to learn the issues and candidates and would only vote for candidates they really care about - no more apathetic or lazy voters. The influence of ideologues would be minimized. The burden of the electoral process would be reduced.

So, good idea or crazy idea?

No, not a good idea at all. I’m 38 years old, I could have used up all my votes already. Instead people should pay more attention to their elected representatives (federal and state) and when not happy with the results, vote for someone else.

And, yes, there should be term limits.

Crazy. But, no crazier than my own pet idea, which is that citizens would have to earn their right to vote in some fashion, instead of having it simply granted to them. I think if people had to actually earn the franchise in some fashion they would take it a bit more seriously, and would use it more wisely (or use it at all).

I’m not sure how to accomplish this (perhaps something like Starship Troopers, where military or civil service is required both to gain the franchise AND to participate in the political process), but I think it would be better than some arbitrary ‘term limit’ for voters.


I don’t think the problem is that too many people are voting; I think too many uninformed people are voting. I’d be totally in favor of requiring a test to ascertain whether a voter understands the relevant issues . . . just the facts, no opinions. The only thing up for debate would be: who writes the test?

Sorry, but I ain’t voting then. NO WAY am I going to some far off planet to be eaten by bugs :eek:

I don’t think they actually EAT you, just kill you in really gruesome ways. Not so bad, ehe? Besides, you could always go the civilian route and test survival gear on Titan instead…


Thanks there, that really is reassuring :smiley:



This was actually done in the South. But the county clerks cheated & automatically passed all the white boys.

It wasn’t outright cheating just the contrived way the law was written. It was the original grandfather clause - if your grandfather had been eligible to vote, you were automatically eligible and didn’t have to take the extremely difficult qualification test. Not biased on the face of it, but you can figure out which group contained a lot of people whose grandfathers hadn’t been eligible voters.

Heh, I’ve had this idea kicking about in my head for years. Give every citizen N votes at X intervals. They can use them on any election they want, and as many of them at once as they want. So, for instance if you don’t give a hoot about federal abortion laws, but really DON’T want Mr. Jones as your mayor, you can dump a year’s worth of votes against the bastard.
The only restriction is that if you haven’t used all of them by the end of X, the unused votes are discarded (i.e. can’t stockpile votes), nor can you sell/give them away.

Of course, it would never work in practice, if only for the fraud angle. And it would also make the whole system much more difficult to predict, and thus more unstable. But the strategy gamer in me loves the idea anyway ;).

Absitively, posolutely under no circumstances whatsoever. Period. Full stop.

I love how these ideas are always about “How do we get people to vote” and always end up concluding “Let’s do something to limit who can vote and/or how many times they can vote.”

Really, you’re just angry that people dare to have opinions different than you. You’re angry that people LIKE voting for the same guy over and over. And you’re angry that, god forbid, people realize how little their vote actually shifts the election result and dare to abstain out of futility.

Can you provide any evidence that a one-man-one-vote is a bad idea, or how a government like in your setup can claim legitimacy without the consent of the governed?

Crazy idea. The biggest problem with that specific proposal is that it punishes informed voters more than lazy ones; if I care deeply, and vote in every federal election from my 18th birthday, I become disenfranchised after a maximum of 10 years (less if there’s a special election). And I’m assuming that state and local elections aren’t docked in any way. A more uninterested voter wasn’t voting every other year anyway, and consequently gets to vote in more big-ticket elections than I do. They stay enfranchised longer, and vote in more presidential contests. That’s beneficial how?

The restriction also hurts the old; most people will use up their votes before they become elderly, and the government would have no obligation to please them. There’s no arguing that it’s in my interests to vote now for programs that will benefit me when I’m older, as the window of eligible voters is always going to be shifting downward so the government has no impetus to continue those programs after I’ve spent my votes. You would have a government of the young, by the young and for the young. Is that sensible?

It may be workable if you start with a bank of, say, 30 votes and can earn more through military service and/or any of a very large number of community service programs, with earned votes having no expiry date. This way you’d be covered from 18 to 76, and it would be only the psychological cost of spending a vote that would keep people from the polls. But passing such an amendment would just open a pandora’s box of dangerous disenfranchisement possibilities, and I think those are beyond the scope of this thread.



I can give my reasons, though they may not be someone else’s…
I don’t necessarily trust the agency or group or “political machine” that gets to decide the rules and restrictions. They have their redistricting and gerrymandering and that’s enough for them to play with already. One person one vote is pretty simple, and even that gets ummm circumvented sometimes. Let’s not give “those guys” more opportunities to game the system.

I used to agree with this but no longer do. Limiting the vote gives one group the possibility to keep out other voters.

My OP was sort of a reaction to threads like you’ve mentioned. There have been a number of threads saying that we need to have things like term limits or IQ tests or changing the way elections work. I call them “stop me before I vote again” proposals - if people really wanted these qualities in their candidates, then they would vote for them and get them. We get the politicians we choose.

So if there’s a problem with the way our government is working, go to the source to fix it - the voters.

Which is pretty much what we do…and what has been done throughout history. AFAIK, no democracy on earth is or has ever been completely unlimited. There are always some limits placed on the franchise, even by the most liberal (in the classic sense) democracies.

The thing is, the devil is in the details…and it’s a matter of HOW one limits the franchise, and how one puts in checks and balances to ensure that such abuse isn’t allowed. Myself, while I can see a down side, I think the aspect of choice makes the kind of limitation I’m talking about attractive.


Unlikely any of those things would happen. More likely-- young people wouldn’t vote, figuring they’d save their votes until they’re older and less stressed. Older people tend to be more conservative, so you’d get a more conservative electorate.

This is a stupid idea. It looks like some social planning “solution” looking for a problem.

Voting should be simple, open, and encouraged (but not mandated).