Is it ethical to require a competency test to vote?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Dirk, Nov 17, 2011.


Should a competency test be required to vote?

  1. Yes it should

  2. No it shouldn't

  3. I don't know/care

  4. Only if...

    0 vote(s)
  1. Dirk Registered Member

    We allow people to vote when they're 18 because they are now an adult responsible for themselves. We don't allow an 8 year old to vote because their understanding of the world is limited. Their knowledge is limited to such a point that their perception is flawed, and thus they cannot make any educated decisions. Hence they have parents.

    People are flat out stupid.

    Only 40% of people can identify the three branches of government or explain what the bill of rights is leaving the majority of people clueless. About 1 in 4 people can name 1 of the 5 rights guaranteed by the first amendment. But more than 50% of Americans could name at least two family members in the fictional cartoon “The Simpsons”.

    America’s lack of common knowledge has gotten so bad that in 2003, the Strategic Task Force on Education Abroad investigated Americans' knowledge of world affairs. The task force concluded: "America's ignorance of the outside world is so great as to constitute a threat to national security.”.

    In 1986 only 30% of Americans knew what the Supreme Court case “Roe vs. Wade” was about. In 1991 only 25% of people knew that the term of a senator was six years. A poll taken a few years ago show that only 20% of Americans know there are 100 senators. Only 49% of Americans know that the United States dropped a nuke in Japan.

    Today in America one in five adults think the sun revolves around the earth. This idea was abandoned in the 17th century and yet one in five American adults believes it. To put that into perspective about 1 in 5 adults were unemployed in the U.S in 2009. The United States 2009 census estimated around 307 million people live in our country. and with some basic math we find that 1 in 5 means a staggering 61.4 million people think that the sun revolves around the earth.


    So why do we not require a competency test to vote? If adults today aren't past the intellectual capabilities of an 8 year old should they really vote? Do you really think their opinion on what we should do matters anymore than the 8 year old whom has no idea what you're talking about?

    Democracy is the will of the mob. The mob consists of fools.

    Just curious what you think about the idea of requiring some sort of competency test before being considered a 'voting adult'. The world needs working class citizens too

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  3. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Heard this one before; initially opposed it on what I described as 'ethical grounds', but now am not so sure it's a bad idea. Why? Because I live in the United States, and because I watched Idiocracy.


    The strange part was this: running through the movie, there was a marked emphasis on Taco Bell. I don't recall if it was the exact company itself, or if the movie relied on some kind of syntenic stand-in, but when one chunk of the movie ended to go to actual Taco Bell ad was the first ad segment thereafter.

    And it was in that fit of blinding revelation I realized hang on, intellectual totalitarianism might not be completely a bad thing.
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  5. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    I'll temper the above comedic hyperbole with the following: yes, mental midgets should probably not be allowed to vote. If you cannot so much as identify with the principles (such as they are purported to be) of the candidates or their party, you have or should have nothing to say about the outcome of their election or defeat.
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  7. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    We have a representative government because not all people are interested in the many issues that a government deals with.
    Indeed, even in the congress itself committees are formed of members with specific interests/knowledge and then they rely heavily on lobbyests to help understand the complex issues.

    Consider the best Rocket Scientist in the world, what that means is the person dedicates his time and talents to understanding Rocket Science.

    Would you say they shouldn't vote because they don't have time to keep up with current events not pertaining to Rocket Science?

    The key is even people who might not be able to pass the test you suggest can still can listen to the people who want to represent them present themselves and their ideas and then vote for someone who has similar views and who, based on what they learn about them duing the campaign, vote for the person they trust to do so and not because they necessarily understand all the environmental, social, economic or political issues that their representative will end up dealing with.

    Of course, every 4 years or so, based on what our representatives actually do, we can of course change our mind.

  8. keith1 Guest

    Many people don't want to study leadership skills, as they trust the position to others.

    One can then see the masses as wise enough to spend their attention time only on those subjects which amuse them, of their interests, or that they can directly use in their course of existence.

    This leaves the responsibility for competency testing to those wishing to take on the job requiring that competence. And the responsibility of government, think-tanks, organizations of high education, intellectual resources, current affairs experts, etc., to maintain a quality candidate, and well-trained leadership.

    The public only votes, and they don't wish to lead as well. The wealthy only wants to lead the public's pocket book out of town. A leader must have a higher perspective than apathy, disinterest, selfish personal gain, and thievery.
  9. keith1 Guest

    What Arthur said.
  10. wellwisher Banned Banned

    With a competency test, elections become demand side instead of supply side. In other words, if everyone was well informed, everyone would have a logical sense of the best directions for the country and would demand our elected officials follow that logical direction; demand side.

    On the other hand, If people don't understand anything, at the other extreme, they will wait for someone to tell them what think; supply side.

    With demand side, the public is too smart (competency test) to fool, so the elected officials and public servants remain servants, who do what the people demand. With supply side, since people have less understanding and need to be told what to buy, they are more vulnerable con artists and marketing, and tend to become slaves to fads and trends.

    In the free market, we mostly have supply side, which may be the election template. An entrepreneur comes up with a new product and uses marketing and advertising to create demand. If he can get get people to demand his product, he can shear the sheep and make a profit.

    It is not as common to see the demand side, initiate demand, and drive the supply side in the market place. This does occur, such as demanding healthy foods. But this becomes blended with supply side, with everything marketed, in some way, as being connected to low calorie or low sugar or fat or low cholesterol or as green, or as natural, or as organic ingredients, until herd follows supply side.

    The proficiency test would slant the election free market toward the demand side and away from the supply side. This would make mud slinging less effective since the goal of that marketing to make the other burger appear to be made of worse horse meat than your horse meat, using smoke and mirrors. With supply side you can sell anything since as BT Barnum said, there is a sucker born every minute.

    One potential problem with demand side elections has to do with the entrepreneur effect. When someone starts a business and does this for themselves, they have a special drive, since this sense of direction was built from within, based on their knowledge and talents. From demand side, the entrepreneurial spirit becomes more like a job than a small business. One may not expect the same level of effort if it is not self serving. The demand side direction can be good, but the elected may be more like union than business owners.
  11. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    With respect and consideration to the points made by those above, the education system in Canada and the U.S. seems to have failed to teach students an understanding of basic business math (credit cards, interest rates, income versus expense, mortgages) and AND what a privilege it is to live in a country that has a participatory government.

    In a representational system that is "Of the people, by the people and for the people", I would be apprehensive of adding any further restrictive criteria to the right to vote. It is already challenging enough to prove entitlement to vote for those who may not have a permanent residence or a full-time job.

    More important, in my view, to re-engage the electorate and make certain that they get out to the ballot box to exercise their franchise, while improving the educational system, that they may make an informed decision. :bugeye:
  12. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I wonder what would happen if there were no names on the ballot and you had to write in the candidate of your choice? This would remove the random element from voting. You'd have to know who was running and vote for one of them and, I suppose, have some idea of how to spell the name of your preferred candidate.
  13. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    That is kind of brilliant if you think about it , but at last I don't agree cause people that can't write can think .

    O.K. you buzzards this reminds Me of how black people , Indians and women could not vote not to many years ago . Are you all elitists? It kind of looks that way .

    Make your x at the bottom of the page and this land will be your land this land will be my land . From California to the New York Islands . This land was Made for Me and you
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Yes, but a collection of special interests by subcommittee isn't the same thing as having no basic idea of the branches of government or the basic set of civil rights enacted for all American citizens.
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    The Tyranny of the Stupid, or the Tyranny of the Willful?

    The trade-off is a guard against a more direct tyranny. That is, as things are Americans must frequently stand off the Websterian tyranny of too much liberty. And this provides an example.

    In recent years, Americans in various states have repeatedly asserted their "democratic" right to decide who is eligible to receive the privilege of civil rights. This is the kind of thing we must endure because of stupid voters.

    However, what of a more direct tyranny? One could reasonably argue that if a voter decides to approve a ballot measure in their state that blatantly and unquestionably refuses the supreme law of the land—the United States Constitution—in order to serve a religious or other aesthetic moral assertion, one ought not be allowed to vote.

    We might also look at the 2012 GOP presidential candidates. Herman Cain has stated that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet or a federal bench. True, he did try to cover himself by essentially admitting his religious bigotry, and, months later, apologized to Muslims, but in doing so he reminded that he has no clue how the Constitution works. It's good enough to run for president, so ... yeah. It ought to be good enough to be able to vote for him, as well.

    Those who remember the "Big Picture" commentaries of A. Whitney Brown might specifically recall his consideration of illiteracy in America, how one in ten of our neighbors might be the guy at the pub sucking up all the complimentary nuts while trying to explain that the Rosetta stone comes from Reticulan grays. The punch line was that some of these people even vote.

    In that sense, it would probably do better for the nation, over the long run, and perhaps even the world itself if, instead of curbing the voter rolls according to exclusionary tests, we sincerely tried to educate our population about civic process and dynamics.
  16. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    So you are willing to spend federal money on a competency test that will in effect curtail voting rights, but are you willing to spend on educating those same people? There isn't even a competency test to run for office! Dirk.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  17. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    No taxation without representation, folks.
    You pay taxes you ought to be able to vote for the corporate lackey of your choice.
    Actually, that excludes the disabled, unemployed, and really poor...they should be able to pick their lackey also.
    ( So no respiration without representation???

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    Whether that choice means we really have popular control... I obviously don't think so, but that's another thread...

    Our education system has failed us.
    But consider...Do Americans really value an education?
    We have what I call a Cult Of Stupid going on in this country...wherein one is looked down upon in many circles for being intellectual.
    Maybe the reason we don't do a better job of educating ourselves is...ourselves. Parents don't care, so the kids don't either, and the cycle passes on.
    Do y'all see what I'm talking about here?
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
  18. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Everybody gets taxed.
  19. The Esotericist Getting the message to Garcia Valued Senior Member

    If both candidates are going to act in the interests of the establishment, rather than the interests of the people, does it matter?
  20. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    No and therein lies the real problem of trusting those we elect to do the right things to help society but instead are only finding ways to line their pockets with taxpayers money.

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    With even the best educational system you could have there are going to be many politicians that will just take advantage of everyone in different ways than they are doing now. Just because a society is well educated doesn't mean that they aren't taken advantage of does it?
  21. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    There will always be an issue of corruption. At least make it illegal!
  22. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    There are many laws on the record today but Congress and other politicians seem to always find ways around them. So no matter how many laws you pass if corruption is prevalent then those laws will and are bypassed for the greedy to take advantage of everyone else.

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  23. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Maybe, maybe not, but the real issue with voter competency tests is that there has never, to my knowledge, been a voter competency test that was anything other than a ploy to disenfranchise people of the "wrong" race/gender/whatever. The whole premise is just so totally ripe for exploitation by craven shitheads that it isn't even worth considering.

    To put it another way: about the only fair, non-perverse method of competency testing that I can think of would involve judicial review and a jury of peers. And so would be far too expensive and slow to apply generally. So it would only apply to people who've taken some action (say, a crime) that calls their fitness to participate into question. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, this is exactly the sole means through which one can be legally deprived of the right to vote in my country, in the modern day. How about that.

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