Brian C. Louisiana

The Ignorant Voter - A Republic's Downfall

According to recent studies included in Forbes' article "The Ignorant Voter", only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of federal government. Can our nation afford to allow voter ignorance to be so pervasive in the election process?

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you because you have been elected as the next president of the United States of America. In the coming months and years you will be faced with our nation’s issues. I would like to bring one to your attention today — ignorant voters. The consequences of allowing such people to vote are dire; we cannot place the future of the nation in the hands of those who cannot make informed and defensible decisions. Consequently, the American people should be held accountable to understand the fundamental elements of the laws and policies which face them. Only through explicitly displaying their knowledge should American citizens gain the right to vote.

    The American people are blessed to reside in a republic where their voice matters; from the first lines of the Preamble of the Constitution, “We the People” hold the majority power in the nation. Recently, however, a growing number of Americans have been squandering the right invested in them; according to the Forbes’ article entitled “The Ignorant Voter”, only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of the federal government (Meyer). From grade school, students in American history classes are taught and expected to be able to name these branches; why are the American voters not held to the same standards as, say, a third-grade student? In addition to this, the USA Today article entitled “Americans Put to Shame by Immigrants on Sample Civics Test” reveals shocking data in reference to American knowledge of the U.S. government as well as the voting process; while 93% of immigrants succeed the test, only 65% of native-born Americans could pass with the required “6 out of 10” questions correct (Korte). If the majority of Americans cannot answer the simplest of questions, how can they be expected to adequately make decisions which impact the entire nation? Furthermore, if the American people cannot meet the requirements given to immigrants to become legal residents of the United States, why should they receive the right to vote without earning it? Keep in mind, however, that some individuals may claim voting is an unhindered right according to the United States Constitution. While voting is a constitutional right of the American people, it should be considered one merely in paper. The reality of American society proves voting to be a privilege granted by the United States government to those deemed American citizens under the law. In other words, the “right to vote” can be given just as easily as it can be taken away (ex. Renunciation of citizenship) since it is granted by political bodies to their constituents. With that being said, I do not claim a desire to revoke the right to vote. Rather, the federal government should seek options to ensure informed and accurate votes. One recommendation would include programs similar to Driver's Education in which U.S. citizens could be presented information regarding the American government and voting systems in which they would be required to pass a final test to earn their voter’s registration. Another would require laws to be written in a clear and concise manner in order for the American people to be able to easily read and interpret them, therefore increasing voter knowledge. In order to gain informed voters, America must adjust its practices to engage the American people through common language and to hold them to a higher standard than what is currently set.


Brian Chauppetta

                                                                               Works Cited

Epps, Garrett. The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Korte, Gregory. "Americans Put to Shame by Immigrants on Sample Civics Test." USA Today.

     Gannett, 2012. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Meyer, Jared. "The Ignorant Voter." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016. 

Captain Shreve High School

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Open to all students in Mrs. Barclay's English III and IV classes for 2016-17.

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