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How about a mandatory test?

June 25, 2012 - Lee Smith
I read a piece in the StarTribune the other day by I-forget-his-name who advocated mandatory voting in the United States, something Australia does to boost turnout. Violators face fines.

The column proclaimed the supposedly great benefits (?) of getting more citizens to vote. You hear a lot of this type of rah-rah promotion in the United States as well. “Get out and vote!” “Your vote can make a difference!”

Well, it seems to me that mandatory voting (or encouraging the so-far apathetic or uninterested to cast a ballot) just encourages a problem we already have: ignorant voting. We don’t need more people to vote. We need more people to be informed.

I’d favor a mandatory test to qualify for voting. If you can’t demonstrate basic knowledge of American civics, history, economics or a grasp of the major public policy issues of the day, you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a voting booth.

Of course, I’m kidding. But you get my drift. If only 60 percent of Americans are turning out to vote in a presidential election year, so be it. The other 40 percent are exercising a right as well: The right not to be bothered. There are advocates out there — i.e. political parties — that may be interested in these apathetic voters. Let’s let the politicians do their job of trying to attract citizen support.


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