Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Mock the Vote...

Cal Thomas reports on a new Cato Institute study showing how uninformed, and misinformed, voters are.
  • 70 percent don’t know about the passage of the Medicare prescription bill
  • 58 percent know “nothing” or “very little” about the USA Patriot Act
  • 61 percent believe there has been a net loss of jobs in 2004
  • 58 percent believe the administration sees a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11
  • 70 percent cannot name either of their senators

This really isn’t all that surprising, I suppose, but it is depressing. Yet what can we expect when most people get their “news” from The Daily Show, and late night talk shows? It certainly explains why people are so easily swayed by emotional arguments, attack ads, and misleading sound bites. They simply don’t know any better. Even someone with common sense can’t make an informed decision without the facts.

For those of us who pay attention and try to stay informed, it’s exceedingly frustrating. You know you’ve all thought it: that jerk’s vote is worth the same as mine! Every time I hear someone say, “There’s really no difference between the candidates,” I just want to stamp a big red “IDIOT!” across their forehead. Forget “Get Out The Vote”—just get out of my face. Go home; stay home; go back to sleep.

We can’t do it, of course, but we really ought to raise the voting age to around 25, and make people pass a test before they can vote—nothing elaborate, just a simple zombie filter. How many branches of the government are there? Oh, so close! Thanks for voting. See the man with the stamp on your way out. Next!

You want a serious solution? Okay. For starters, let’s stop making it so easy to vote. None of this “motor voter” nonsense. No registering at the time you vote. And no spreading out the voting period like it’s some kind of TV mini-series. Aside from cutting down on voter fraud, it’s simply not too much to ask that someone register ahead of time, find their way to the right polling place, and cast their vote on election day.

This won’t solve the problem, of course, but it’s a start. People who are willing to actually make a little effort are much more likely to be serious voters. Unfortunately we’re going in exactly the opposite direction. You watch. Soon we’ll be voting on our cell phones, our TVs, and over the Internet. They’ll be having Ms. Cleo voting for you if you’re not careful. This is not a good trend.

The only other suggestion I have is to improve our education system. People who can read and write are better informed. Bring back government and civics classes. Teach kids the constitution and get them discussing current events.

I spent years being an uninformed zombie, and I’m not proud of that. But at least I had the common sense not to vote.

Update: George Will asks, "Should the right to vote require a smidgen of responsibility? Should the electoral system be twisted in knots, paralyzed and exposed to vast fraud just to accommodate people too clueless to show up at the proper polling place? Never mind."

Update 2: Mona Charen discusses the Cato study and remarks about uniformed voters: "But why oh why must the chattering classes ceaselessly urge them to inflict this ignorance upon the rest of us?"

Yep, exactly.

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