Reconsidering Voter Literacy Tests
by Earnest Prankheimer
Female impersonator Ann Coulter was on Fox (alleged) News again recently, and she made one of the most courageous statements I’ve heard in quite some time, at least from the far Right. Last November’s near record low voter turnout of 36.4% was a shameful example of participatory democracy, yet Coulter bravely said we don’t need more people voting, but less (I think the number she’s probably thinking of is 1%). Then she actually said, “I think it should be a little more difficult . . .There’s nothing unconstitutional about literacy tests.” It took a pair of brass balls to say something like that, which is another reason I refer to her as a female impersonator.
Wanting less people voting is nothing new for Republicans, who know more than anyone that historically, lower voter turnout always favors them. That’s why they keep coming up with phony voter ID laws and other ways to disenfranchise “certain” people — namely the young, the elderly, women, and minorities, all of whom tend to vote for Democrats. Still, the more I got to thinking about it, the more sense it makes. The founders of this nation were pretty specific in cautioning that without an educated and informed electorate, democracy doesn’t work. If you want proof, all you have to do is look at the assorted moon bats, lobotomites, and amygdaloids elected by so-called low-information voters (a euphemism for dumb-asses). I believe we all have a civic duty to keep up with events that directly affect our lives. Are you comfortable with a bunch of beer-bellied Billy Bobs who can’t spell their own names voting for the next leader of the free world? Because I am not. Maybe the question should be whether voting is a right, a privilege, or a responsibility.
Voting literacy tests have an ugly history in America. They were used from the 1890s up until the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and their single purpose was to keep black people from voting. A white person might be asked to name the President, whereas a black person would be asked to name the 67 county judges in the state, or to recite the Constitution. This was pure abuse, and I would never defend it. What I’m proposing is a fairly administrated non-partisan test of ten simple questions any American with a properly functioning cerebral cortex should have no trouble with. Would-be voters would have to get them all correct if they wanted to vote. Alright, I’m in a generous mood — you can miss one; that’s still 90%. Are you game enough to give it a try? Okay, then, write your name on the top right of a piece of paper — please write legibly, and let’s begin. And no fair peeking at your neighbor.
- How many branches of government are there? [Note: I know that today the three branches are corporate, military, and banking, but I’m looking for the more traditional answer we were all taught in school.]
- How many monarchs in black robes sit on the United States Supreme Court?
- In which state is Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital?
- It’s not in any state; it’s in the District of Columbia. That’s what D.C. stands for!
- 7 days
- 6000 years
- 3 ½ billion years
“As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits;
Kits, cats, sacks and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?”
Okay, pencils down. Please pass your papers to the front of the class. If you’re a regular Wryly Coyote reader, I have every confidence that you’ll be voting next year to elect either the next Bush or the next Clinton to the dynastic Presidency. The good news is that we won’t have any more loony tunes like Ted Cruz in the Senate, or Louie Gohmert in the people’s House. No more Michele Backmanns, Steve Kings, or who’s that guy that chairs the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, James “Mountain” Inhofe? The guy who has a book out on how global warming is a hoax, that guy. We don’t need any more of those. And the even better news is that hardly any Republicans are going to be able to vote, and none of the tea party, I’m afraid.
It will be another Enlightenment, a new Golden Age of Sanity, as reason and rationality triumph yet again over ignorance and bigotry. And it won’t be some bunch of elites putting rational people into office, simply some reasonably intelligent people that take the trouble to keep themselves informed. But oh, you say, what about all the dumb-asses that couldn’t vote? You don’t need to worry about them. They can always take the test again before the next election. Right after they show their papers certifying that they’ve completed the remedial civics course in one of our many FEMA reeducation camps. So once more, allow me to thank you, Ann Coulter, for your brilliant idea. There’s a first time for everything. And I’m only half kidding.