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All you need to know to vote

Caricature of SteveDavid Harsanyi, editor of The Federalist penned a commentary for The Washington Post today that I hope was written with tongue firmly in cheek.

He decries what he calls the ignorance of America’s electorate and prescribes forbidding clueless citizens from voting.  Let’s hope he’s not serious.

He cites several studies including one from Pennsylvania University and another by Newsweek as evidence of the benightedness of many Americans.

Harsanyi advocates a simple test of voter eligibility and poses the following questions that must be answered correctly:

Q–“If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?”

A—The Speaker of the House of Representatives Republican Paul Ryan.

But I don’t think the persons who lost their jobs when their former employer closed business and shipped the work overseas needs to know that in order to express dissatisfaction at the polls.

Q– “There were 13 original states. Name three.”

A—There are several tricks to remember all 13 from Delaware to Rhode Island.

But voters who are about to lose their home because of foreclosure should be more concerned about their next residence than the original states of the republic.

Q– “What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?”

A—Americans who rail against discrimination are enjoying freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Likewise citizens are free to worship or protest in groups or publish opinions online. But do they really need to know they are beneficiaries of the First Amendment in order to exercise these rights? No.

Of course, I wish that Americans were more knowledgeable about many issues. But if you lack access to quality health care, that’s all you need to know to vote for someone to improve it.

If your children are victims of inadequate educational opportunities, you know enough to vote for someone to remedy the crisis.

You don’t need to memorize the U.S. Constitution to recognize that your city has failed to keep your drinking water safe.

You don’t need to know the arcane details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to understand that your city’s crumbling bridges need repair.

You don’t need to know all the actors and issues in the Middle East if the police force in your town does not keep you safe in your neighborhood.

If you face any of these issues, you already are informed enough to vote.


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