Make Civics Exams Mandatory for Voting

Josh Hughes | United States

In the United States, every citizen that is age 18 or above and is registered to vote enjoys the right to do so. While, on average, the people of the US do not take advantage of this right as much as those of other countries, there are still hundreds of millions of people that contribute to their “civic duty” every other November. But should it be that simple? Should anyone and everyone that shows up to the ballot be able to make a decision that could potentially drastically affect the scope of the country and have a direct effect on your life, regardless of their understanding of what they are voting for?

This idea has no intentions of discriminating on the basis of sex, race, socioeconomic status, or anything else. This idea is also in no way calling any one group of people inferior or superior over another. I firmly believe that all people are created equal and that each person should have the opportunity to have their voice heard in our republic.

A Simple but Effective Exam

After the many controversies during the 2018 election regarding disenfranchisement, the topic is hot. When an individual registers to vote, they should be given a very simple test that would cover topics related to how the American government works and the platforms of the candidates running. While determining how difficult the test would be is subjective as everyone has a different definition of “simple,” it would only cover the very basics of our governmental structure. Because there would be questions related to the candidates and their platforms, voters would need to take the test every election cycle in order to stay up to date.

The test would not test the literacy or the intelligence levels of the individuals. It would likely need to be modified many times in order to accommodate everyone, but its intentions are not to put anyone at a disadvantage. In fact, the idea is to make the test as objective as possible so that everyone will be on level ground while taking it.

”Why is this test necessary?” one may ask. There is a very simple answer: voters are uneducated and uninformed. One may argue that informed or not, people still have a right to vote. That is a fair argument, but I believe that the implementation of a test will be very beneficial.

For starters, this test will directly affect who gets to vote and who doesn’t. Essentially, the ones that care more and are more informed will be the ones that get to make the decisions. The amount of ignorant voters who have no idea what they are voting for will be greatly reduced. The test will have many other consequences as well, however. People will be more encouraged to do their research about the candidates and about our governmental process, and voter IQ will only stand to rise. The average American, threatened with the idea of having to sit out on an election, will be encouraged to become informed about current issues. Another benefit of the test is that it will weed out the ones that do not care enough to take time out of their day to take a test. There are undoubtedly millions of people who do not value voting enough to test for it.

There are many implications that would come with instilling a test like this. I am in no way implying that this idea is perfect. It would likely take many forms of iteration in order to make a test the public could get behind. Still, the idea has the potential to create a much better, much more informed voter pool. It is likely in everyone’s best interest for voters to know what they are talking about, and that’s why the implementation of passing a civics test in order to vote would be a success.


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