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Letter: Reinstate literacy test for voting

Re: “N.H. free of voting act rule,” (Monitor front page, March 5):

Ben Leubsdorf reported that 10 New Hampshire “communities saw voter turnout below 50 percent in the 1968 presidential election and, at the time, New Hampshire had a literacy test for voters, though (Deputy Secretary of State David) Scanlan said that law apparently wasn’t enforced.”

It is generally recognized that the literacy test was invoked in the Deep South after the Civil War for the specific purpose of disenfranchising a specific set of new voters. That was then.

Now being now, and at the risk of being tagged as an elitist, I believe a literacy test should be reinstated as a condition of being qualified to vote. In this day and age, when going to vote, one should have some understanding of all the written and oral discourse leading up to the election.

Indeed, there is TMI – too much information – saturating the print and broadcast media as election days draw near. That, however, makes my point. If a citizen is to cast any sort of rational vote, that citizen should be literate in the nation’s language. Mind you, I am all for families conversing in their native languages at home and perpetuating it for future generations within their ethnic groups. Elections, however, call for a modestly high bar of language proficiency in English. Potential voters before going into the voting booth should have read and heard as much as possible with respect to whom and what they will be voting on. Doesn’t that call for comprehending the nation’s language?

I suggest a three-paragraph literacy test as a requirement to become a registered voter.


Alton Bay

Legacy Comments20

The spending madness has got to stop. Here a few examples of your tax dollars at work. 1.5 million to a Boston Hospital to do a study on why gay women have weight issues. 947,000 to study a menu that the astronauts could use on Mars 2.7 Million to Morocco to teach the folks over there how to make pottery. 576,000 to to the Natl Science Founation so they can create a video that is called Prom Week, so folks can relive their Prom experience in HS. The spending beast is out of control. Yet taxpayers are fine with it.

Earthling, I would like to see the tax brackets simplified. I feel that if you have a lot of tax brackets, that allows loopholes. We have to address spending. That is something the left does not want to deal with. They give lip service to it. It is not one or the other. It needs to be balanced with spending and taxes in my book.First way to do that is to work within a budget. The idea that the govt should be allowed to not produce a budget so it can keep spending is wrong. You do that in your personal life and you end up bankrupt.

"We have to address spending. That is something the left does not want to deal with." Apparently this only applies when there is a Dem in the WH. Reagan and Bush spent like drunken sailors. The debt grew by 349% under Reagan and GHWB. Then the debt nearly doubled under W. Interest expense, mostly as a result of debt increase under Reagan and the Bushes, is now 1/3 of the deficit. We can't cut interest expense, although we could have called and reissued the Reagan bonds at the current low rate if Reagan hadn't made them non-callable, locking in interest income for wealthy bondholders at interest rates around 14% until 2019. Here are a couple of the steps in a plan for balancing the budget: Step 1: Increase taxes on the wealthy. Step 2: Cut spending, bring back our manufacturing jobs, and increase GDP (and tax revenue) through single payer health care, paid for by individuals rather that by businesses - just like China does, where the lower cost products on our shelves come from that don't include the health care costs that make American products less competitive globally. Seems like a better plan in comparison to the Republican plan of taking a machete to all the branches and killing the America tree in the process.

Hey earthling, how come you never mention how much the debt has grown under Obama? I would think if you wanted to compare spending, a fair way to do that would be to include how Obama has faired in his last 4 years. You put out Bush and Reagan figures, but none for this President. Why?

I've put out plenty of figures about Obama's debt increase - don't ya know?: Recap of total 56% debt increase so far under Obama: $5989 = mostly ongoing Reagan and Bush tax cuts + 2 wars started by Bush + stimulus to avert Bush 2nd Great Depression + interest expense on top of interest expense on the Reagan/Bush tax cut spending spree debt buildup + Bush prescription drug program. In the past I itemized these costs on spread sheets (that I think sail really liked), but the spreadsheets don't work under the new CM format downgrade. Reagan debt increase 189% plus finance charges for 30 years and beyond (because Republicans refuse to fix Reagan's mistake and raise taxes on the wealthy to historical rates in order to lower the debt). GHWB debt increase in 4 years 55.6%. Bush debt increase in 8 years 89%. Much of the debt increase under GHWB, Clinton, W, and Obama is a result of the huge Reagan tax cut for the wealthy and the borrowing to pay the subsequent Reagan finance charges - $10 trillion has been spent on interest expense since Koch associate William Niskanen helped Reagan figure out how to run America into bankruptcy by handing out trickle down tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, like the Koch brothers.

No, the system needs more tax brackets--not fewer. Brackets and loopholes are separate issues. The income curve is so steep that only more brackets can effectively and fairly capture taxes at upper levels. See Tim Noah's piece on Slate or his book on the issue he calls "The Great Divergence".

Re: "It needs to be balanced with spending and taxes in my book." Exactly. And that's the tack Obama has taken--a combination of tax increases via closing loopholes and cuts to spending. The sticking point all along has been the Republican refusal to raise spending either by increased taxes or closing loopholes. All the Republicans want to do is cut discretionary domestic spending and entitlements, while protecting their base, the haves and have-mores. Hence the impasse.

80% of NYC Public high School graduates cant read....that explains why NYC is a liberal democrat haven

I'd go along with requiring a math test for voting. It might filter out a lot of those who don't understand the math that shows how Republican tax cuts and finance charges have caused most of the debt over the last 3 decades.

Agree earthling. It might also wake folks up to the fact that e have a spending issue, spend taxpayer's dollars recklessly, and show by numbers which programs actually work and which ones do not. It would also come in handy for the folks who have no idea why working within a budget in WA is important. And how much debt we are passing on to our grandkids. Math is good.

I think the budget could be mostly balanced if tax rates went back to the pre-Reagan rates - the rates right before the runaway debt train left the station in the 1980s. But I guess Republicans still love to hand out huge tax cuts to billionaires in exchange for their political bribes. Math challenged Republican voters don't realize that we most likely are irresponsibly handing out well over $1 million per day in ongoing Reagan tax cuts just to 2 Republican billionaires. Borrowing that $1 million tax cut per day will cost us another $2 million per day in finance charges for the next 3 decades.

When talking abour raising taxes, we need to include what that means for small business, and folks that invest on a small scale. That part of the equation cannot be left out. If you accept the fact that our recovery has been very sluggish, do you think that raising taxes even more on small business will inspire more hiring or expansion of their business? Anymore targeting of business in my book will make things worse. Business knows that the left hates them and that they will be the scape goats for more spending with this adminstartion. That has lead to 4 years of very sluggish growth and unemployment. I believe that more taxing will lead to a double dip recession. Just my take.

To RabbitNH below (no reply button): I'd like to see a lot more tax brackets - maybe about 20 - or replace the brackets with a formula. We have to stop ballooning the debt to hand out huge tax cuts to billionaires. To fix the "sluggish growth", stop the job outsourcing, and eliminate all health care related costs to any size business, we need national health care, paid for by taxes on individuals and not on businesses.

Why do we need voter ID and literate electorate? In the news today, "Cincinnati poll worker charged with voting half dozen times in November.." ...and the stories go on. Oh yes, that's why we need voter ID

Are you saying TCB that could happen here in NH? According to the left, voter fraud is rare, and obviously only happens in other states not here in NH. It is also a problem with folks getting ID's. Too difficult the left say.

For most of us gracchus voting is something that we all should take seriously. it is actually a privilege to have the right to vote. There are more and missinformed voters every year. We have the media spinning the facts and we have folks who just do not bother to check on a candidates voting record or keep informed on any level. Their vote is purely based on what candidate they deem will benefit them. That might mean a big govt candidate will promise more entitlements and a small govt candidate will promise lower taxes. You need to read to be able to get a driver's license to take the written test, why not for voting?

""Their vote is purely based on what candidate they deem will benefit them"" 100% correct. We live in a me, me, me society. So I guess the question is, how does one group get the right to complain about the other group, when they are both just taking care of themselves?

Why not reinstate property ownership as a voting requirement? After all, how can one accurately assess the impact of local budget items without a stake in the tax that funds them? I'm curious, Bob, do you advocate literacy or any other testing as a precondition to gun ownership?

Or perhaps . . . the ole' "penis test" in order to vote. You got one - YOU CAN VOTE!!!

And sometimes, a gun is just a gun.

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