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Public Illiteracy and the Voting Process

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In his essay, ‘The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society, Jonathan Kozol speaks about all the issues surrounding illiteracy around the world, but also in the United States. He tells about all the downfalls in the lives of those who can’t read and their lack of future or even current success because of it.

The English language becomes a fear for those who can’t read, and many times it is forced upon them to have to do things they are incapable of doing. This is impactful to our country when it comes to votes reflecting who will have the control of our country. For example, Kozol in his reading states: “Illiterate citizens seldom vote. Those who do are forced to cast a vote of questionable worth”. When we have over 16 million voters who are illiterate and aren’t casting votes based on the content of the person, they are electing, but the physical things it undermines democracy. Forcing or even allowing people who are unable to read and understand what they are voting for should not be allowed and something should be done. This is a life sentence and compromises the future of not only themselves, but those who surround them. Kozol was mentioning in his article about how President Ronald Reagan would not have even been president if the people voting for him understood his campaign and what it was about.

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I do agree with Jonathan Kozol’s idea that illiteracy can undermine our democracy, but I also disagree. This is because people are being voted in for their physical representation of themselves, but even salt looks like sugar. Having someone with this amount of power as a president does or a governor, it requires for us understand what we are signing our country away to. Even though I agree with this I feel like people who are unable to read are still capable of understanding. Media covers much of politics and explaining the campaigns like in the news, those are things people don’t necessarily need to read, they can listen in. There is still some sort of connection between the personal understanding of the campaign through audio and their beliefs. For example, my grandmother doesn’t know how to read or write, but understands things that are presented in the media very well. Like the recent presidential election in the Dominican Republic took place, she was very well informed of the standpoints of each person their campaign and what was the best for the county, not because the person was physically a good representative.

Although this may not be for everyone, it’s pretty common to still have an understanding of these things from what you hear. Saying this does not mean these people are to cast a vote on paper where they cannot understand there should be a method of help. Have a room where each person has headphones listens to the campaigns and tells a representative which vote they would like to cast. Finding the solution to this issue can be detrimental to the country we live in and around the world, or it could undermine our democracy.

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Public Illiteracy and the Voting Process. (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
“Public Illiteracy and the Voting Process.” Edubirdie, 08 Sept. 2023,
Public Illiteracy and the Voting Process. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2023].
Public Illiteracy and the Voting Process [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 08 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from:
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