“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, November 28, 2008

Voter Eligibility- An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come

America's constitution originally limited voters to those who held property. As such, we have been taught, our Founding Fathers were needlessly restrictive and undemocratic.

Now, over two hundred years later, newly-minted drivers register to vote at shopping malls, or via ACORN, without even compelling proof of residence.

Thus, this post's subject should have given you chills. On election day, I wrote this post, which included the passage,

"In prior election years for the past decade, I recall the Wall Street Journal publishing, close to each quadrennial election date in November, an editorial written by one particular high school teacher. His point was always the same, regardless of in which year he wrote his piece: there are some Americans whom you really don't want in that polling booth.

By describing the incredibly bad sense of both American history and current world events among his charges, the editorialist reminded us of the danger of too many ill-informed and bad-thinking people voting for our governing officials.

It almost certainly puts me in a minority, but I'd actually prefer a lighter voter turnout. Both this year, and in most election years. Give me a thoughtful, if smaller core of voters determining the direction of my country, rather than a shotgun blast of newly-registered, uninformed and illogical voters swamping those who actually pay attention to the national agenda month in, month out, every year."

Back in late summer, when ACORN's involvement in multi-state voter registration fraud, and their ties to the newly-elected President's campaign were big news, my business partner and I discussed the idea of more restrictive voting laws.

I now believe it would be better for our country if two important changes were made regarding voter eligibility.

First, a set of questions be taken directly from exams by which people become naturalized US citizens, and used as a qualifier for voting. Each voter would be required to answer all 10 questions correctly, or s/he could not vote that day. Period.

If a citizen and registered voter can't pass part of the exam to become a US citizen, why, in God's name, do we want them voting in our elections?

Second, I would recommend that only people who can prove that they paid taxes to the federal government, state and/or local jurisdictions may vote in those elections.

This makes a lot of sense, and was the only restriction the Constitution ever placed on voters. Simply put, it insures that only Americans with 'skin in the game,' those who actually pay for the government, have a say in its operation.

All others, especially those who only take from, but do not pay for government services, are excluded.

It's not hard to understand why this would be a healthy thing. What's to prevent every welfare recipient for voting for whomever will give them more benefits? Nothing.

Gradually, the fewer working voters will be held hostage to those who vote without contributing economically to our society.

I know my recommendations won't make it into law. Probably ever. But they should.

I'm convinced we'd be a better, healthier Republic for these restrictions on voter eligibility.


Red, White, and Blue Patriot said...

You can't have exams at the polling place. Know one will allow that.I don't even know that it is a very good idea, I mean say you go to the polls your informed you love your candidate you are estatic. Then you go miss one measly question on your exam and you can't vote. You've been covering the election for months maybe even for a full year and the one day where you can do something to really help your candidate out and you can't. That just isn't a good idea. I do support your idea of proof that you've paid taxes and all that.

C Neul said...

I stand by my recommendation. I don't care if it's not 100% correct to pass. But certainly every voter should know enough about government and the current incumbents to fill 7 questions that they must get correct:

-# branches of govt
-# Senators
-party of current Rep
-party of a Senator up for re-election
-party of sitting President
-party controlling each House
-# of judges on the Supreme Court
-how President is elected.

All would be mult choice. Over time, questions would be rotated or randomly generated.


J Motes said...

I agree with your recommendations in general, as we do need better-quality voters. I disagree with the focus of your exam questions, however, as the subjects you propose are learned merely by rote: A memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension.

I would rather have questions that focus on the principles of our governmental and economic systems. Can the voter show he understands how our government is designed to work? Or why a constitutional republic is a better system than pure democracy? Do they understand various economic models and their consequences? Most people seem to think capitalism and the free market are failures, although the American government hasn't allowed these systems to work unfettered in a century at least. But they think Keynesian policies are the real deal.

Not that imposing any requirement like owning property or understanding our Constitution will ever be allowed. But it's a pretty thought.