So, reading recent letters in response to a recent editorial in the times I was struck by the naivete and idealism that they display. And that their OWN liberal ideology will prevent their own policy prescription.
Should we lower to voting age to 16 and require a civics test for young voters to get an early voter permit?
This is what the editorial says:
"16-year-olds who want to start voting should be able to obtain an “early voting permit” from their high schools upon passing a simple civics course similar to the citizenship test...Tying adult rights to cognitive requirements could also smooth the path to dealing with a much bigger age-related social problem."
And the letters:
Anya Kamenetz proposes that 16-year-olds who can pass a civics test be allowed to vote. I think that we should take it a step further and make everyone take such a test.
We don’t expect everyone who is 18 to know how to drive, so we make them take a test. Age alone is insufficient.
Likewise, every voter should be required to know whom and what they are voting for. A civics test may prevent elections from turning into beauty contests.
What we really need are individual voters who can show themselves to be competent, not who fit our demographic biases: voters who can reason and who know the basics about government, the issues and the candidates. People of any age, gender or race who can demonstrate relevant competence should be allowed to vote, and the less competent should be excluded.
Whom would we elect if the electorate were actually competent? And whom would we have never elected?
I believe that only the most motivated and politically aware students would go the extra mile to obtain the “early voting permit” Anya Kamenetz suggests.
If this right were introduced, with a test of “cognitive requirements,” my generation would be able to have our valuable voices heard.
No disagreements. I absolutely think that voting is a privilege, not a right. And if people don't care enough about their country to research their leaders before voting, then they don't deserve a say. In the Spirit of Starship Troopers.
The problem, however, is one that extends to all other areas of society in which objective cognitive requirements are used to allocate benefits, such as on
firefighter exams, inequality at CUNY , and many other sociological variables .
Racial differences in intelligence exist. And any standard that relies on cognitive standards to determine eligibility will exclude disproportionate amounts of African Americans and Hispanics. So, if we impose cognitive tests on teenagers to determine their voting eligibility, their will be claim after claim of disenfranchisement.
Solution? Lower test standards for minority teenagers OR quotas or a cover up of the bias.
But what's most likely to happen? We are going to quickly abandon the standards, claiming that test scores shouldn't determine who has a right to vote and who doesn't. That test scores mean nothing.