Should voting be mandatory?


If not, is there anything you think that can be done to increase the number of people that vote?

Or do you think that increasing the number of voters is a goal that we should even care about?


Of course not. Get out the vote is really a stupid waste of time and money. Apathy is a human right, and given the high levels of ignorance among Americans, I prefer that large numbers of them do not vote.

I’d like to see a test of basic civics – not based on political opinion or disputed facts but on the most basic facts about our government. Voters should demonstrate at least that basic knowledge, how many representatives, how many senators from each state, the date the Declaration of Independence was signed, name one right list in each amendment of the Bill of Rights, how do we amend the Constitution, etc. Voters should show some level of competence. It’s a way that they can show a possibility that they might actually be informed about issues and may have actual thoughtful (if wrong) reasons for voting for Santa, The Criminal or the Orange Blowhard.

I think we should run “Please, don’t vote” campaigns where we discourage the ignorant from voting.


I don’t care if voters know how many congresspeople we have. But I think they DO need to be able to understand what powers lie with what branch.

So many people think the president can pass laws by himself. And think the courts can make up laws. I honestly think fewer than half of all voters are aware that only congress can make laws.

A lot of people also somehow think the Supreme Court is an elected office. Where they even get this idea, I have no idea. I’ve heard so many people say things like “The president should fire all these people in Congress” or “I hope the president replaces our governor with someone better”.

It’s just mind blowing really.

So I’d like to change the system as follows:
Must pass a basic “how government works” test to ever be eligible to vote. If you do not understand that Congress must declare a war that the president subsequently carries out as commander, you are simply not informed enough to vote. You have no idea what you’re doing, and just as we don’t let people drive cars around a park, or litter on public grounds, we shouldn’t let people electorally litter in the voting system.


That’s part of “how government works,” and you made the same point I did :stuck_out_tongue:


I don’t want to take the franchise away from the ignorant. Do they teach Civics in todays schools? I doubt it. If we free local schools from federal mandates we might see more history and civics being taught. The Department of Education needs to go. Take the money, block grant it to individual school districts, NOT THE STATES.


You said

Which is a long list of facts that give absolutely no insight into how government actually operates. Constitutional amendments barely even happen in the last 100 years. We’ve had 4. People don’t really need to understand that.

This is exactly why civics classes are so crappy. They’re loaded with pointless information like knowing there were 10 original amendments to the constitution. Or that it was ratified in 1787. Useless trivia. Being aware that the president cannot write laws has practical meaning. Memorizing the names of 30+ cabinet positions with no real understanding of what they do is similarly pointless.

It’s a fact overload, where most of the people who take the classes walk away no better informed than they were to start with.

That’s where we disagree. I absolutely do. I don’t want people voting when they have no clue what they’re doing.

A basic understanding of how the federal governments works, a basic understanding of how taxes work, and a basic understanding of how local governments work is needed for your vote to have any value.


I agree with (iirc) Mark Twain: “If voting mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it”


That’s an interesting thought. I would totally agree that it shouldn’t go to the states. But block granting to individual districts sounds like a logistical nightmare.


Just an FYI…That quote, attributed to Twain, is nowhere to be found among his literary writings, letters, or recorded speeches.


I witnessed this scene at a local polling place here in Arizona.

Some guy was pushing a wheel chair with an ancient frail lady, with an oxygen line, a blanket, and tremors (she looked like she was near death) up to the booth. He announced to everyone in line, with a grin (he was probably her great grandson) that the last time she had voted, it was the FDR era. He also announced that it was her “right” to vote . . . as if all it takes is to be warm and breathing (barely in this case).

Some people in the line clapped. I thought to myself, “Hell, this poor old lady doesn’t even know what century she’s in, much less what country. THAT’S EXACTLY THE KIND OF PERSON WE DON’T WANT VOTING.” A literacy test would have solved that issue.

If you can’t add, subtract, multiply, or divide whole numbers, tell what state you’re in, and at least write a coherent sentence to express yourself, you certainly cannot grasp the issues.

Now I’m not necessarily saying understanding the issues will make you conservative (although I think it should), but how in the heck can you VOTE on the issues if you don’t even have the capacity to understand them?

There have frequently been discussions on here about “low information voters”, and with good cause


Recently found out that the “staff” at a local nursing home, obtained absentee ballots in the name of each of their patients, filled them out (on behalf of Hillary), had the residents sign the outer envelope and mailed them in–knowing that they would not be going to the polls themselves on voting day. None of the patients even KNEW that they’d “voted.”


What 'Nutjob said:

Truckload of “yeah-thats.”


If something like this came to fruition, you can’t imagine the party in power trying to create questions that people that oppose them would find harder to answer?

What was that question…ummm…How many feathers on a chicken?

While I agree that knowledge and education are paramount to a functional democracy, I don’t imagine that you support a national effort to fund schools. Nor do you (again, I’m guessing here, please feel free to correct me) support a national curriculum, but you’d support some kind of nationwide test for voting?

Poor and ignorant people deserve representation too. If you want to fix the problem, don’t demand they pass a test to vote, support measures that educate them.


I have 2 teenaged girls, one in 9th grade and the other in 8th and while they do teach civics, it’s not a class of it’s own taught for the entire year like I had in 9th grade. For what it’s worth I’m appalled that Civics isn’t taught with more urgency.

Something else that will probably disgust you, but in 8th grade the kids get to re-take tests. So they can fail them and take them again to get a better grade.

In high school it’s a little harder. You can retake a test, but your grade is the average of the two tests.

So they barely teach Civics and when they do, you get two shots at it.

Kinds aren’t really learning this stuff, it’s being tossed in front of them and they memorize only long enough to take a test, they don’t understand what they are reading.


Sounds like your school has adopted that idiotic “Outcome-Based Education” model most States rejected back in the 90’s. In that system, if studying for an exam interfered with a basketball game, the game always won because you could re-take the exam until you got a grade you were happy with. It was designed also so teachers wouldn’t have to actually TEACH. Students were assigned groups who “taught” each other while one (or hopefully TWO) teachers looked over their shoulders offering advice from time to time.

I’d get MY kids out of there as fast as humanly possible.


While I’m not fond of the “retake” model, what you describe is not how things work. There are one or two teachers in class (depending on the subject), but the teachers teach the class, not the students. They are simply allowed to retake tests if they wish to strive for a higher grade with the difference being in high school you can only move your grade half-way from your low result to the higher result.

My kids get no phones after school on school days and they study as much as necessary (both are straight A students) and rarely if ever have I allowed “retakes” unless there was a good reason.


I’m with CWolf. We part ways on this.

The federal government ought to abolish the Department of Education and never touch the cash in the first place. But this would be a step in the right direction for sure!

It’s a long list of facts that is not that complicated or difficult to remember. I learned them. Others learned them, and it shows a basic interest in being informed. It creates a large pool of information we could test for basic knowledge.

The citizenship test is a good example of a test we could use to screen voters.

For example – and it’s multiple choice!
"What did the Declaration of Independence do?"

The federal government sends money to many thousands of school districts already. It’s no more a nightmare than the Title I program, for example, possibly less so.

That’s disappointing. Still a funny sentence :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s why it ought to be limited to indisputable facts related to civics and history… The citizenship test comes to mind as a good example – although it’s another thing large numbers of Americans cannot pass.

It doesn’t seem to be a priority at all – to the point that someone who agrees withme, like CWolf, thinks some basic no-brainer facts about our government and nation are too pointless and too much.


I admit I don’t know much about this. I yield to you on this.

Yes, but attributing it to someone famous is just a way to try to give it more legitimacy, having said that, it is funny. I don’t know if it’s entirely true, I mean Trump was elected, and whoever thought that would happen?

How many “indisputable facts” are there? Who get’s to decide? Climate change is agreed on by people who spend their lives understanding it yet there are people here, in this forum, that believe it’s a hoax driven by the desire for research dollars, when the opposite is just as likely to be true, that industries that stand to lose money if people were convinced that humans are responsible for rising CO2 levels and that those levels are responsible for warming.

What about evolution? that’s pretty indisputable, yet, overwhelmingly, the people trying to discredit it do so because the truth of it conflicts with what’s written in a book written thousands of years ago.

So while I agree that “indisputable facts” are a great idea, but in reality, facts are disputed. And that’s the problem with that idea.

People have to value truth over what is comfortable. People, right, left and middle is often too lazy to look for information and those that do often only look for information that confirms what they already believe, something you may recognize as conformation bias.


That’s because people aren’t persuaded by facts. Which is why I stopped bothering to cite them. I’m a lot closer to “This is just like, my opinion, man” and let it drop. Nobody with an existing position is persuaded based on facts.


Why do you think this is the case and what, if anything can be done to change that?