Aug 13 2008

Not a voter “literacy” test: a civics test instead

Category: Congress,constitution,election 2008,White Househarmonicminer @ 9:09 am

So, here is a civics test for prospective voters. The test’s author, Doug Patton, has devised a 27 question test that 8th graders would once easily have passed. He thinks you should be able to score at least 18 in order to vote. That’s 66.6%, a “D” when I was in school.  Patton’s introduction to his test:

I have never been an advocate of the popular notion that “everyone should vote.” Some people look at me as if I am somehow un-American when I say that I am not in favor of encouraging people to vote who would otherwise never darken the door of a polling place. I really don’t want someone on the streets of Hollywood, who just failed to identify the vice president of the United States on one of Jay Leno’s “Jay-Walking” segments, helping to select the person who will lead my government for the next four years.

Take the test here.

I have to report, sadly, that enormous numbers of high school graduates cannot pass this test (that is, get a score of 66.6%). More college graduates than I would wish are similarly unprepared. Yet this test is not hard, for anyone who has the vaguest notion of how our government functions, and the barest minimum of knowledge about current events. I know it is politically impossible that a test such as this will ever be adopted. But if you can’t pass it, you should be embarrassed to be voting. And in all honesty, I think the author of the test was too generous. In my opinion, if you can’t score about 24 out of 27, you should go out to lunch on election day (since you’re already there…), and then go home, and read a book or something.

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