51 Comments

The Jim Crow South had competency tests for voting. In practice, all blacks somehow failed the tests.

That particular hack won't happen today, but the incentives to game the tests to produce certain voting results are so huge I can't imagine it would be left unexploited.

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I recommend watching Vivek on Jordan Peteson's show. He's obviously a well read and very intelligent guy. It would be amazing if he could become a real contender. A debate between an intelligent, articulate guy with a consistent and well thought out worldview ... against bumbling Biden. What a contrast.

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"just try explaining how the voting age fell from 21 to 18 in the first place"

We asked them to die in Vietnam but wouldn't let them vote.

The vast majority of extending democratic suffrage in the 20th century was as a reward for conscription.

More broadly, political power has always been linked to military power.

"the fruit of an informed electorate would not be policies “biased” in favor of the rich, but policies better-crafted to advance the common good."

LOL!!!!

Any "test" would immediately become "what the test makers want to achieve their own objectives." I don't want to be ruled by UMC progressives.

At least past systems had the benefit of being linked to property to tax payments, things anyone can achieve and can be objectively measured.

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If I were to pass a single voting rights change, I would allow married parents to vote on behalf of their dependent children. The unmarried and childless are basically the main problem we have in democracy. If you've got the virtues to have kids in an unbroken home you've probably got the wisdom and time preference to participate democratically.

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1. Voters are not irrational; they’re ignorant.

2. “He who says organization, says oligarchy.” (Robert Michels). The voters do not rule. They are mostly ignorant of what the rulers are doing.

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Vivek seems to be the most libertarian-leaning candidate in the race so far. One of his proposals is to abolish the IRS!

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Vivek professes to be an "economic nationalist". That does not comport with a commitment to unlimited skilled immigration, at least not in the minds of GOP populists whose favor he seeks with that kind of rhetoric.

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There is a negative correlation between voter turnout percentage and the quality of the candidate elected in US presidential elections. Regardless of the popularity of this proposal, he's right that it would lead to better candidates getting elected, in addition to the civic engagement benefits he talks about.

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More pressing than a test for voters should be more stringent qualification to, oh, I don't know...be president. Here's a modest proposal: have won a previous elective office or been an X star general/admiral. Like voting itself, there are already encumbrances on this right (including age and birth nationality.)

It's hard not to enjoy Vivek's candidacy for the intellectual tone he demonstrates on the campaign trail. It fills a void. Still, why not finish off the project from last year to build a money management firm that attacks wokeness? It seems incontrovertible that some experience in office would make a president more effective. Would Reagan have been as good a president had he won without being governor of California?

If the answer to this is "no" and inexperience is great, why have an age minimum for elective office?

(I suspect the re-elected governor of Florida from Harvard and Yale also has a mind equaling Vivek's just chooses not to demonstrate it. That's indicative of the real problem with "Democracy.")

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I've often contemplated a system in which everybody gets one vote by default, as at present, but in which you could gain extra votes by correctly answering some simple questions that everybody should know the answers to anyway. E.g., perhaps you could gain up to 4 extra votes (i.e., your vote would be counted as up to five votes instead of one) for every one of four correct answers you gave. There would be a pool of, say, 20 questions, which would be widely publicized in advance so everybody would have a chance to look up any answers they didn't know. Then a computer would randomly select four questions from the pool for you to answer before voting. (Of course, you could opt out of the quiz and just take your one default vote if you wanted.) Questions would be things like, What is the name of the current vice-president? How many senators does each state have? Which constitutional amendment protects the right of free speech? Who is your current member of the House of Representatives? What is the minimum voting age? Yes, yes--I'm aware of the many possible objections and implementation difficulties. But I think it's an interesting idea.

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Yes, I have seen Vivek’s YouTube interviews in which he is pressed to support immigration caps, but refuses on the grounds that caps do not mesh with the variable vacancies of the jobs market (for those skilled immigrants who also pass the civics test and affirm American values).

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In all fairness, the ignorant are generally better voters than the well-educated. This is especially true on the left. Soros DAs and other Marxist true-believers are elected by the left's well-educated activist class in low-turnout elections. The less-informed wing of the Democratic Party generally prefers affable, corrupt pragmatists.

For a leftist perspective, see here:

https://www.vox.com/2015/6/8/8740897/informed-voters-may-not-be-better-voters

There may be some theoretical level of knowledge and critical thinking ability that leads to better voting. But in politics, the midwits are worse than the dimwits (per the meme), and in the real world, any test like this is mainly just going to increase the proportion of midwits at the dimwits' expense.

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It's worth noting that the consequences of voting are overwhelmingly external to the voter. When you vote for Congress or President, literally 99.9999997% of the consequences fall on other people. As such, it makes no sense at all to treat voting as an individual right.

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The only people backing him currently are self identified smart person types who know that this idea is a good one.

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Voter knowledge tests don't make much sense to me because:

1. At least within the circle of people reading this post, we already acknowledge that voting is irrational. What will the test look like? "Hey, does it make sense for you to vote?" "Well, no, it's not rational for any one out of millions of people to vote!" "OK! You pass!" (Voting is individually irrational)

2. Only kind of joking, but it gets to the idea of what kind of knowledge is to be tested? Almost no-one believes the naive instrumental concepts of voting, so any test of knowledge based on it is, itself, going to be a dishonest test. (Voting is generally not instrumental, so testing on instrumental means wouldn't be useful)

3. Conceptually, can't we do some basic game theory here? What's the potential upside? Bryan acknowledges they're pretty low. What are the potential risks? Well, we've got a long history showing how voting tests were mis-used. (We should look at proposals in terms of risk and reward. This is a proposal with historically high risks and low rewards. We should move on to better ideas).

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P.S. Vivek is trying to say a new provocative thing every day. Most will be forgotten. He's just trying to get in the news cycle.

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The 26th amendment, which lowered the voting age, works fine with the idea of a selfish voter.

1. You want to enfranchise people who agree with you. If you think that 18-21 year olds will agree with you, then giving them the vote will make your own position stronger.

2. The Civil Rights Act had already given the vote to youth in most elections, which was later limited to just federal elections after it was challenged in court. The 26th amendment was partially ratified to streamline voter rolls. In other words, extending the vote to 18 year olds was accomplished through a rider, pushed by unelected judges then ratified partly due to efficiency. What voters thought wasn't necessarily a factor.

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