Why No Voting Test?

The Constitution leaves the process of selecting electors to each state. Various amendments prohibit the states from denying the vote on the basis of race, sex, age, or the ability to pay a poll tax. There is no individual constitutional right to vote.

That being said, I think there would be tremendous benefit to enacting a test as a prerequisite to voting. Something along the lines of a watered down citizenship test.

Presidential elections have been reduced to the lowest common denominator. Campaigns are negative and full of lies. Why? Because those tactics work on people who are willfully ignorant of government. People who shirk their important responsibility to be part of an engaged and informed citizenry, which is absolutely necessary in a constitutional republic. These people should not be permitted have a say in the selection of representatives that will serve all the citizens. This is in everyone’s best interest.

I’m not talking about a lofty standard or a scheme to eliminate the vote of minorities or the poor. I’m talking “what are the three branches of the federal government?,” “how many senators does each state have,” etc.

In my opinion the accountability of representatives and dissatisfaction with politics in general will continue to accelerate in this country without something like this happening. Unfortunately it’s about as unpopular an idea as banning cats.

:dubious: I hope you realize that “literacy tests” have a very ugly history in this country.

How about, “Because it would violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

You and your facts.
Hmm Jul 2012 in before the deadline. It’s been a hell of a month

Based on our own history, we’d be stupid to trust ourselves to create a fair test. This is one of those areas where it looks like people have actually learned their lesson and realized these sorts of tests are a bad idea.

IANAUSConstitutionalL (or any kind of L) but is there anything in the US Constitution or any other applicable act to prevent a state from making it a requirement to be a registered Republican (or Democrat) in order to vote (or to get on the ballot in the first place)? Is there anything that forbids denying the right to vote solely on grounds of political affiliation? It doesn’t seem to fall into one of the race/colour areas covered by the Voting Rights Act, or any of the other prohibited restrictions such as sex or age.

Perhaps this is behind the current right-wing refrain that the US is a “republic, not a democracy”. The Constitution requires a republican form of government, but does it also require a democratic form of government?

In my experience, anyone who says that is not arguing but whining.

Well, there is:

(U.S. Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 4) :slight_smile:

At the time the Constitution was written, democracy as a term was mostly reserved for what we would today call direct democracy, an ancient Greek nation-state-like system in which the entire eligible population voted directly on issues rather than going through representatives.

It didn’t take very long - probably early 19th century - for common usage to change and start referring to the U.S. as a democracy. (The fact that there was a Democratic-Republican party in control of the country for a quarter century probably helped.) By mid-century the U.S. was pretty much the dictionary definition of what a democracy was.

Usage changes meaning in the common speech and this affects more formal definitions as well. Lots of words used by the Founders have changed meanings over time. Take "perfect’. When they wrote “in order to create a more perfect Union,” they meant more complete. That’s restricted to specialized uses today, as in perfect strangers, and they would find our expectations of the term perfect, um, perfectly unrealistic.

Hmm, now what could this “tremendous benefit” be?

Ah, I see. For their own good, you would like to keep “these people” from voting.

According to the CIA World Factbook we’re a “Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition.”

ETA: In response to the discussion a few posts up about republic vs democracy.

The United States is a democratic republic – as opposed to an aristocratic republic, like the Roman Republic or the Venetian Republic. No further discussion is needed on that point. Those who whine “a republic, not a democracy” don’t actually contradict this, because what they really mean is that the United States is a federal as opposed to a unitary state, which is a different matter entirely.

“Voting is not an intelligence test; it is a way of saying no.”

– William F. Buckley

The moment that you allow such tests is the moment they become designed to disqualify people likely to vote for the opposition.

I knew the join date when I saw the thread title.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 only prohibits the use of tests to deny members of a race in violation of the 15th Amendment.

There is no per se ban on a voting test, only those that are enacted for the purpose of racial discrimination.

It’s sad that I’m now checking that date whenever I open a new thread.
Do you think that a “Join Date” of July 2012 will dog anyone who just joined? Or is it doubtful that any of the 7/12 Club will be sticking around long enough for it to be an issue?
Hey, wait, why no intelligence test to post here?

And, then, can we please give an intelligence test to people before they have kids? I mean, we ask a lot of common sense questions before we let people drive…

It also bans tests that have the effect of racial discrimination.

Seems to me that signing up for the test would be an automatic fail. :wink:

No, they mean that it’s a republic. In the phrase “democratic republic”, the word “democratic” is an adjective. To call our nation a democracy would be like pointing over at a blue bucket and calling it a “blue”, it would just be bizarre. The only reason to term the nation a democracy is to try and convince the average person that the founders had intended to create a populist democracy rather than a democratic republic.