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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Voter Competancy Tests 

I just caught the tail end of a discussion on NPR about a proposal to require dementia patients to pass a minimal competancy test prior to being allowed to vote. I apologize that I haven't been able to find the source material for this, but it hasn't been posted. I'll update when I locate something.

The test was something like a two part question, to be applied at the poll, along the lines of "Do you understand that you are voting for governor of the state, and that whoever gets the most votes wins?"

This concept sounds to me, well, simply wrong. If we were to allow nonprofessionals to apply screening tests to one group (and how would the dementia patients be identified to begin with), where would it stop? Would we require a loyalty test? A minimal civics knowledge test, or a current events analysis?

I personally am appalled by the level of disinterest among many citizens when it comes to learning the slightest bit about what's going on in the world, or even in the country, their state or their own town, but personal understanding and awareness of the political system isn't required to cast your vote. A nondementia patient wouldn't even have to prove they know who the candidates for president are before being handed a ballot or instructions and pointed to a booth.

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