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.