A Retort: Policing Voting Competence Should Be Left to the Individual

Earlier this week, my fellow Save Jersey contributor Dale Glading posted a blog article in which he argued that only voters educated in basic civics should head to the polls.

While seeing every voter properly informed is an ideal we could all rally around, I found myself disagreeing with Dale and feeling that another side of the argument must be brought into the discussion.

I’m not here to argue that more uninformed voters should come out to the polls; I’m simply interested in guaranteeing that no one’s natural rights are infringed upon by the government. Specifically,  no one should have their natural right of conscience violated, even the uninformed conscience.

While Mr. Glading presented a wonderful argument as to the constitutional history of the “right to vote,” I seek to stress a value shared by our Founding Fathers: a protection of our natural rights from the destructive reach of government and government’s subjective, artificial standards.

I’m strong believer in the rights of the individual, Save Jerseyans.

We were born with rights granted to us as individuals; we have inherent worth as human beings.  We were born with a mouth to speak, ears to hear, eyes to see, and a mind with which to reason.  No government can take these things away.  No government can limit your use of these rights imparted to you from birth.  Governments must be made to recognize these rights as they are essential to the human condition.  The right to vote is derived from the right of conscience.

If individuals seek to vote without being properly informed, then it is not the role of government to stop them in my opinion; the individual must regulate themselves.  If John or Jane Ignorant Voter believe they are qualified to vote, they should not have their right of conscience infringed upon by the government or anyone else.  Your natural rights are absolute no matter what the government may tell you to the contrary.  The individual should and must be able to make their own decisions provided they don’t impinge upon other individuals’ basic freedoms.  That principle, above all else, is necessary for the successful continuation of our republic.

The proposed voting “civics” test would give the government the right to decide if you are smart enough to vote.  I for one am not comfortable giving the federal government, or any government, that kind of awesome power.  The government controls the questions and can use that question role to ensure a certain kind of voter is eligible to vote as opposed to other groups that may not support the sitting government. The government would essentially have the right to select its own bosses.

Our current system may be flawed but no system is perfect.  We all should aspire to a constitutional republic where all voters reaching the polls and having their voices heard are well informed.  I’d still rather have that decision be left up to the individual.  After all, the moment we start to let a far-off intellectual elite dictate who runs our republic, haven’t we lost it once and for all?

 

Michael Mulraney

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