Low-Information Voters: It’s Time to Rethink “One Man, One Vote.”

Profile photo of cincinnatus 92 By cincinnatus
September 29th, 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts, Charles Krauthammer, and James H. Billingham – head of the Library of Congress for the past 25 years – should be pissed

My vote counts just as much as theirs. 

Despite their vastly superior knowledge of U.S. history, the law, the Constitution, and the innermost workings of the legislative process, I am their intellectual peer in the voting booth.

And that makes zero sense.

Similarly, it makes zero sense that my vote – a working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizen who studies candidates and issues on the ballot – is cancelled out every four years by someone who knows little about our nation’s business… and does even less to contribute it.

Giving the right to vote to unintelligent and uninformed people – statistically those most likely to not work, not pay taxes, and contribute nothing of substance to society – is tantamount to giving them a license to steal.  And it’s a very, very bad idea.

The idea of government “of the people, by the people, and the people” pre-dates the United States by some 2000 years, dating back to ancient Greece.  In the Greek system, with a population of an estimated 250,000, only an estimated 30,000 (about 10%) were “full,” voting citizens: women, children, and slaves were not considered citizens.  And of the 30,000, only about 5,000 (about 2% of the total population) actually exercised their right to attend assembly meetings and voted.  The basic idea was that the people who contributed the most to society, and were the most knowledgeable about its genuine needs, were the ones trusted to make the decisions about how things should be run… and paid for.

Technically, the United States is not a democracy: it’s what is called a “Constitutional Republic.”  That means that the members of each branch of government are elected directly by the people, and the scope of authority for each branch is intentionally limited by the Constitution… to prevent any one branch from amassing too much authority.  Clearly, the Founding Fathers’ greatest fear was a centralized federal government that could overpower the people, either with ballots (hence, the three branches of government) or bullets (hence, the Second Amendment.)

While the Constitution says nothing about “one man, one vote” (that emerged from court cases in the 1900) what most people don’t realize that, when our country was founded, our voting rights started much like the ancient Greeks; as we evolved – and adopted the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th amendments – voting rights were broadened.  And that’s, by and large, a good thing.

What’s not a good thing is that, by opening up voting to anyone with a pulse, we’ve turned voting into something less than a treasured right entrusted to our most responsible citizens: today, less than half of all eligible voters (40-55%) cast their ballot, and many who do vote do a marginal job educating themselves on the issues.  What has resulted, however, is something that may not be in the United States’ best long-term interest: the “low information voter” as political operatives label them.

These are people who cast their votes for the candidate who’s cooler… funnier… more charismatic… has the neatest website… or takes time from his campaigning to appear on “The View.” Or, conversely, voters who has been led to dislike a candidate’s opponent by misinformation, spin, or outright lies.  The ability to govern, to lead, to act responsibly, to be trusted to protect America’s international and long-term interests… fall by the wayside, because we like someone else’s Twitter feeds more.

If you Google the words “stupid” and “voters” you’ll get treated to a YouTube cornucopia of Idiocy in Democracy.   People who are so stupid, that their opinion shouldn’t matter… especially in setting our national course headings, or choosing our leader. Their dim-wittedness isn’t a function of sex, age, race, religion, or any of the other classic forms of categorizing people; these people simply defy demographic description due to their denseness.

And we want these morons banding together, and selecting our national leadership?

But there is a solution; I call it “Progressive Vote Values.”  It’s a lot like “Progressive Tax Rates” where they more money you earn, the higher tax rates you pay… only in this case, the more you know about the issues facing America, the higher the value your vote.

If I were responsible for setting voting laws, I would immediately put into place the following non-discriminatory laws:

1) When you register to vote, you must take – regardless of party, income, race, religion, etc. – the U.S. Citizenship test (given in English) that all new immigrants do. Before immigrants earn the right to vote, they must pass a 100-question written test, to ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of our nation’s history, constitution, and law-making processes.  Some of the questions.

  • What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
  • The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
  • If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
  • The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
  • Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.

Those are very good questions; if a soon-to-be citizen can answer those, he or she can probably be trusted to be informed enough on the issues facing America to vote.  Hence, the value of your vote will be determined your score: if you score 100% — and why wouldn’t you? – your vote counts in full; if you score a 50%, your votes counts for one-half.

Before heads start exploding at the ACLU, NAACP, and SPLC, these are not “literacy tests” given only to one group of voters, as prohibited by the Voting Rights Act of 1965: they would be the standard, uniform tests given to ALL voters… and modeled directly after the test given to modern-day immigrants before they are granted citizenship in the United States.

2) If you don’t pay any sort of taxes – income tax, property tax, capital gains, something other than sales tax – you vote is automatically reduced by 50%.  One of the biggest issues in political campaigns is taxes and spending… if you’re not paying taxes, by definition, you’re deciding how everyone else’s money is getting spent.  That’s not fair.

3) Ballots and voting instructions are printed in U.S. English only… not the half-dozen languages currently supported by bankrupt counties across California.

4) In order to ensure that each voter is who they claim to be, they will need to present a state-issued photo ID.  This enables the vote tabulation system to accurately count each vote as proportionally appropriate for each voter.

Of course, critics of this program will call it racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and elitist… when, of course, is it none of those things.  No one is be singled out on any demographic basic.  It’s like flunking your driver’s test: you have no business being on the road unless you know what you are doing.  Same goes with the voting booth.

If your vote only counts for 50% in 2012, you’ll have four years – until 2016 – to 1) study American history, 2) get a job, 3) learn English, or 4) get a photo ID.

In the old days, people used to get a whole college degree in that amount of time.  You can probably handle those four things.



One Comments to “Low-Information Voters: It’s Time to Rethink “One Man, One Vote.””

  • Profile photo of John March John March says:

    The Demos of ancient Athens were landed men. Your approach is very much like that and I might add just as dated. You propose rewriting what has been established by minds better equipped that you or I. But you are, as I am, entitled to your opinion. The beauty of everyone voting in my opinion is that the oligarchs are restrained from creating a new slave class to serve their wishes. Now that is democracy.