Imagine a world where people, who do not frequently monitor the news, think they should be the ones deciding its future broadcasts. Where the ones who can only recall the president’s name, when asked what they know about politics, think they are entitled to choose the next one who follows. Where millions of voices are solicited and encouraged to be heard, yet less than half of them open their mouths and speak up. Welcome to the United States of America, the land of the ignorant and the home of the indolent. A country comprised of an abundance of uneducated voters—those who are too politically immature to comprehend whom they are voting for or against. An issue that persistently branches from injudicious roots, from misrepresentation in the media to a monumental absence in election participation, which jeopardizes the entire system. However, by informing voters about candidates before an election, advocating alternatives to miniscule absentee excuses, and implementing a mandatory governmental IQ assessment, this obliviousness can be properly managed to generate authentic election results.
Primarily, American voters are intelligent individuals; yet, they prove to be quite abortive in learning the fundamentals of the United States’ political system. Jared Meyers, a journalist for Forbes magazine, interviewed Ilya Somin, a professor of law at George Mason University, to disclose, “only about 34% of Americans are able to name the three branches of the federal government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial” (par. 5). This vexing percentage exhibits how even the most underlying facts about the American government have yet to become engraved into the minds of their citizens. While many people believe this level of ignorance should be labeled as purely imbecilic, Somin clarifies, “ignorance and stupidity are often conflated, but they are in fact two very different things. A smart person may still be ignorant about many things” (par. 7). Consequently, this ignorance emits an abysmal outcome on the results of an election. Many voters are, in fact, astute citizens. However, they are not aware of the numerous laws and concepts used to define America’s political system.
Securing politically enriched voters in an election conveys the overall importance of voting itself. The Annenberg Classroom presents how voting is only efficient when voters, “read up on the issues and the candidates”, while researching the ballot, as well, “because it is your voice, with the many others, in unison, can change the direction of a community, state, nation, and even the world” (‘Speaks Out’, par. 3). Henceforth, casting votes during an election is, “fulfilling the most basic action in a Democratic society. Voting is a fundamental process that keeps our system of government working” (‘Speaks Out’, par. 1). In spite of this, Hattie Lindell, associated with the University of Texas, expresses, according to the 2008 US Census Bureauin, “only forty-five percent of America is even voting in these elections, even though they could determine the fate of the country” (par. 3). Voting is a crucial component to a functioning, well-oiled constitutional republic; therefore, it is not a surprise how America is now referred to something else entirely: an oligarchy. Americans are not only erroneously comprehending the significance of submitting their vote, but they are fruitless in their endeavors to make certain their vote is a cultivated one too.
Ultimately, this plethora of ignorant voters leads to adverse consequences. Somin elucidates the negative effects uninformed voters have on society, as they do not have an extensive impact, “if any one voter is ignorant”, however; it does matter, “if we have an entire electorate that is that way” (par. 9). This can be exemplified with air pollution: one gas-guzzling car makes little difference, but thousands or millions of them could potentially cause great harm to the environment (qtd. In Meyers par. 9). Unfortunately, for the sake of every resident in America, “if voters are poorly informed about government policy, they will often make poor decisions. They often support counterproductive or contradictory policies” (qtd. in Meyers par. 12). Thus, if the public is generally ignorant about government policies, “then many of the laws enacted by legislatures may not represent the will of the people in any meaningful sense” (qtd. in Meyers par. 21). Political obliviousness distracts from what a constitutional republic represents—absconding vulnerable citizens into the hands of perfidious politicians—as votes are coerced against the voter’s self-interests. Hence, the concept of society freely voicing their own opinions vanishes, since a preponderance of those opinions do not come from dependable sources. The spread of this ignorance is highly contagious, as apocryphal information travels, within seconds, from one device to another across the globe. The United States government has been on the receiving end of backlash due to recent and prior dubitable choices fabricated to restrict voters. Camila Domonoske, news reporter and producer at National Public Radio, covered current events taken place in North Dakota before the election this November. The Supreme Court abjured to overturn a voter ID law that required residents to, “show identification with a current street address”, which proved to be rather detrimental as, “a P.O. box does not qualify” (par. 2). As this information released just one month before the election, many Native American tribes, who only have P.O. boxes, hastened to uncover a way to guarantee their voices were rightfully heard (Domonoske, par. 1). The main controversy—aside from the obvious hit at an American citizen’s intrinsic rights—is how North Dakota has a Republican-dominated state government, and Native Americans are known to be more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates. For this reason, by passing this law, one may simply assume the state is attempting to assure a Republican candidate is victorious—by denying a prime contribution to Democratic votes. This is a modern example of how voters are being turned away from polling locations—which could find its way to cretinously illiterate voters in the near future, if a solution is not discovered.
Reliable election results are feasible to attain if every citizen acquires equivalent opportunities to cast their vote. Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize of History recipient, addressed, in the course of three novels, the struggle African Americans surpassed during the American Civil Rights Movement. Branch largely focuses on the Mississippi Summer Project, which was a campaign launched in an, “attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi. Blacks had been cut off from voting since the turn of the century, due to barriers to voter registration and other laws” (59). As well, many black women in some southern states, including Mississippi, could not vote even after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as their states did not favor the adjustment to the voting system. Similarly, in Ohio, Eric Murphy, State Solicitor, submitted a brief excerpt—which outlined a policy initiated by Jon Husted, Secretary of State—demanding the delivery of, “confirmation letters to residents who had not voted in two years. If the recipient does not reply, and then also does not vote over the next four years, Ohio removes the name from its roll of registered voters” (par. 6). Nevertheless, many people were appalled, thus leading to an Ohio resident, Larry Harmon to sue—insisting this directly infringed upon a persons’ rights as a citizen of the United States (par. 7). As history has proven time and again, a constitutional republic is only cogent if there are not any stipulations targeting a specific population—restraining them from expressing their freedom of speech. In previous elections, people were often precluded from polling locations due to their race, gender, religion, and intelligence. For instance, during the American Civil Rights Movement, African Americans were threatened, beaten, and lynched if they attempted to vote or run as candidates themselves. Likewise, in Ohio, if the confirmation letters are somehow lost in the mail, or do not reach its intended recipient, they are then eradicated from the registration list. The reasoning behind the policy was to establish the database’s credibility, by removing people who moved out of Ohio or had passed away. Instead, a procedure should be enforced where deaths and recent absentees from the state are reported to the Board of Elections, thus deeming this policy impotent.
Cheryl K. Chumley, writer for The Washington Times, recounts a study overseen by Princeton and Northwestern universities, which revealed how the, “U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen” (par. 3). Researchers then ratiocinated how, “U.S. policies are formed more by special interest groups than by politicians properly representing the will of the general people, including the lower-income class” (qtd. in Chumley, par. 5). In a similar manner, Ellen Brown, an attorney and founder of the Public Banking Institute, delineates America’s transformation into an Oligarchy. “First, running for office became expensive, so those who seek office require wealthy sponsors to whom they are then beholden”, Brown continues, explaining how a voter’s judgement is, “dependent on what they learn from the mass media. These media, in turn, are controlled by moneyed interests” (par. 19). The notion of America portraying the perfect image of a constitutional republic has crumbled, with the foundation of an oligarchy being constructed in its wake. When exigent decisions are decided without the ‘okay’ from every person willing to make their voice heard, what America once stood for ceases to exist. As a result, the vision the Founding Fathers once held turns to ash, as media platforms and political candidates are inveigled by higher powers—ones with an extreme abundance of green paper. Analogously, naive voters stem from misrepresented broadcasting in visual and print news media, as well as a shortage of veracity concerning governmental parties. While Americans were prodigiously fixated on fake news during the previous election, the hands of a tyrannical leadership crept up from the shadows, until, finally, it choked its way to the forefront—where the fallout of scars and bruises refuse to be neglected.
The terms regarding a citizens’ voting eligibility have been re-drafted several times throughout American history, and could soon serve as a complication to ignoramus voters.
Robert DiClerico, Ph.D. and professor at West Virginia, emphasizes in his novel how, during the Civil War, merely six states permitted African Americans the right to vote—one of which being New York; yet, only if they, “met a property qualification of [215 dollars], as well as a three-year residency requirement” (11). Correspondingly, Donald Ratcliffe, Ph.D. and research fellow at Oxford, explicates how in 1776, “only free men having a sufficient evident common interest with and attachment to the community deserved the privilege of voting in a Republican polity. There was no desire to enfranchise the poor, who were commonly identified as profligate or idle” (223). Ratcliffe isolates Rhode Island and Connecticut, as they each, “required those who could meet the property qualifications to take the freeman’s oath before they could vote” (Ratcliffe, 226). On the other hand, women were not permitted to vote until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was passed—a victory which took decades of suffering and protest to achieve. In the twenty-first century, in order to vote a person must be, “a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of a state, at least eighteen years old by election day, not disqualified due to a court order, and not under supervision for a felony conviction” (Ratcliffe, 245). Initially, after the United States triumphed against the British, the restrictions on voting were simple: be a white male and own property on state soil. Shortly after, limitations were administered to secure purely ‘stand-up citizens’ in America with the privilege to vote. While some restrictions are certainly vital to sustain a just political system, the fact by which these rules can be adjusted increasingly, throughout the years, raises questions about possible future guidelines involving uninformed voters.
By permitting eighteen-year-olds to vote, the election results are funded more by misinformed citizens, than they are by politically knowledgeable ones. Tak Wing Chan, affiliated with the University College London, and Matthew Clayton, associated with the University of Warwick, inquire if the legal voting age should remain in place or if the limitation should be attenuated or heightened. Both concluded the restriction should not be lowered, claiming the, “maturity level of younger people is too underwhelming to even be considered as potential voters” (545). Aiding this claim, Timothy Furnish, Ph.D. and assistant professor of history at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta, outlines in his article how an election can only operate when, “knowledgeable citizens vote” (par. 4). In the classroom, Furnish often questions his students on elemental information about America’s government, which often leads to imprecise responses. Furnish recounted most of his students anticipated the, “African-American population made up ‘30 or 40 percent’ of the U.S., whereas it is actually 12.5 percent” (par. 5). Contrastingly, DiClerico insists a general test of competence imposed by the government to, “ensure the voting pool will possess a certain minimum level of knowledge regarding the electoral process,” is already being achieved; suggesting they are doing so by verifying those under the age of eighteen are, “ineligible to vote as are, in most states, those in mental institutions” (177). If lowering voter boundaries to the age of eighteen qualifies as eradicating misguided votes from entering the polls, then every adult who is considered politically illiterate has no chance of receiving the attention they desperately need. Conjointly, American voters are deemed uneducated, in a governmental sense, because a large portion of voters consist of recent high school graduates. In fact, this is mainly due to a lack of the proper education taught through public school systems, since younger voters are commonly presumed more misinformed than older voting generations. If the mainstream eighteen-year-old is too politically immature to partake in passing laws and electing candidates, then the legal age limit should be increased, or a test should be required for those few who are indeed very knowledgeable. Yet, since they are not the sole contributor of this witlessness, adults should be tested as well.
The evolution of voting in the United States, which has been influenced by multiple key events, will develop and progress in the years to follow. Congressional Digest reports in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, ruling, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (‘Voting rights timeline’, 1). In 1964, the Twentieth Amendment was constituted the right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election, “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax”, while after this, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 forbid discrimination on the basis of, “race, national origin, religion, and gender in voting, public places, the workplace, and schools” (‘Voting rights timeline’, 1). The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and required election workers and polling sites to provide, “services to ensure people with disabilities can vote” (‘Voting rights timeline’, 1). Also, in 1993, the National Voter Registration Act made it, “easier for Americans to register to vote”, as well as assisting in, “maintaining their registration” (‘Voting rights timeline’, 1). The Civil Rights Act of 1957 authorizes agents of the federal government to, “file suit in federal court on behalf of black voters denied the right to vote” (‘Voting rights timeline’, 1). In brief, each of these amendments and laws funneled the nation to where it stands today. The history of election rights has grown increasingly tolerant toward those who appear and behave contrarily than the bulk of the population; yet, room for improvement still remains.
Due to multiple factors, voting contribution is steadily diminishing—one of which is a benightedness for upcoming elections. In a recent survey, it was discovered, “around 16.6 percent of registered non-voters claimed their reasoning was a lack of interest—feeling their vote would not make a difference”, whereas, “20 percent stated they were too busy, while 13 percent did not like any of the candidates or campaign issues” (DiClerico, 185). Implausibly, according to a Pew Research Center study, “U.S. voter turnout ranks 31 out of 35 developed countries”, which means thirty developed countries, such as Belgium (87.2 percent voter turnout) and Sweden (82.6 percent voter turnout), rank above America’s mere turnout of 55.7 percent (Brookshire, par. 2). Once more, a 2012 Pew Research Center study noted, “51 million citizens in America—nearly one-in-four eligible to vote—had not registered” (Brookshire, par. 2). While their inadequate justifications have chiefly fallen upon deaf ears, Brookshire exculpates, “learning about every single issue takes time”, because if people are requested to vote, “too often, or choose a position on too many subjects, they might just opt out of the whole process” (par. 17). Lamentably, enlightening citizens about politics is irrelevant if no one chooses to turn up at the polls. Whether it be a congested schedule, or just a universal disinterest, there must be a resolution reinforced to transcend these frivolous excuses to ensure the population is represented in a suitable fashion. After all, with the presence of early voting, as well as absentee voting, there is no justified excuse. If these alternatives prove to be bereft as well, auxiliary options, such as an online voting platform, voting by phone calls, or extending the time frame on election days should be carried out.
Fortunately, there are various solutions to eliminate or re-educate ill-informed voters. One method, expounded by Furnish, illustrates how the voting age should be, “increased to twenty years-old” (par. 8). As well as demarcating the voting age, there could be a qualifying assessment for voters, “consisting of rudimentary principles all voters should understand before participating in an election” (Furnish, par. 9). In 1804, the Founding Fathers formed the Electoral College, because they were, “afraid of direct election to the Presidency”, as they feared a tyrant would, “manipulate public opinion and come to power” (Schulman, par. 2). In other words, they did not, “trust the population to make the right choice”, thus, believing the general public to be too ignorant to vote appropriately (Schulman, par. 4). Even so, the vision the Founding Fathers once held turned to ash, as media platforms and political candidates are inveigled by higher powers—ones with an extreme abundance of green paper. Whether it be a test people fill out, or a limitation to be set in place, something has to be done to dissolve the issue—ensuring the best decisions are made—even if this entails a reevaluation of certain amendments. But, granting the younger population a few more years to mature and evolve will improve their overall understanding of political knowledge.
Subsequently, politically nescient voters in America should be primed in a proficient manner to warrant honorable election results. If these citizens continue to cast their vote in a maladroit manner, every law, amendment, and politician passed or elected will have been derived from corruption. Nevermore will these elections epitomize the voice of the people, but rather signalize the opinions of a deluded section of the population. Therefore, instigate action by highlighting absentee submissions and early voting dates for those who claim to be too ‘busy’ on Election Day; or better yet, prolong the hours of polling locations to give people more time to cast their vote. Simultaneously, present non-registered voters, or even registered voters who never show up, a significant reason to vote, by directly avowing how each candidate will affect them individually, as well as communally. In addition, steer their attention toward media sources who do not hold any bias on a specific party, for instance, The Wall Street Journal. Also, inform voters by using applications on technological devices, like the app Ballot Ready—affiliated with the university of Chicago—which offers, “comprehensive nonpartisan voter guides on local elections in addition to state and national races” (Maciag, par. 3).
“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world”.