Citizens can vote without intense government, election knowledge

This Tuesday, I did something most unusual: I opened up a copy of The Skiff and read through it. One article in particular caught my attention: “Uninformed Americans should not vote.” 

Being somewhat of a political junkie, I decided to look into what the author had to say. My initial reaction was anger, shock and rage. I am writing this article to address the misconceptions of “uninformed” Americans discussed by the author of the article.

The author starts by asking questions about different functions of government. To be blunt, you do not need to know about every facet of government to understand who you would like to vote for. This information is nice to have as a political science major and an informed citizen, but it simply isn’t relevant to voting for president of the United States.

The author then attacks voter registration programs like "Rock the Vote" and "Vote or Die" for making “registering to vote easy” by setting up at concerts and events that “appeal to young, often uninformed voters.”  

"Rock the Vote" and "Vote or Die" are marketing brilliance in action, designed to make young people aware of whether or not they are registered to vote. For example, in Texas, you can register to vote at the DMV. However, if you do not think about it—and are not prompted by the sub-par service at most registration locations in Texas—it is easy to fall through the cracks. 

Organizations like "Rock the Vote," "Vote or Die" and others allow you to see whether you are even registered at all. They save time, which, in my mind, is great. They allow anyone above the age of 18 to vote. 

Now, we reach the quote that rocked me to my core and sparked my absolute ire and is the driving force behind this article: “When people vote based on the color of a candidate’s skin, government benefits (like free phones) they have received, or catchy campaign slogans about 'moving forward,' how can we feel confident the best candidate will win the race?” 

Now, let’s disregard the vague stereotypes this author throws around against Obama, and rephrase this question: “Guys, Mitt Romney is the best candidate, so please don’t vote for the black guy who loves government handouts and has a good marketing team.” Or, put another way, if you don’t agree with me, don’t vote.

Following some factually-liberal vitriol against the president, the author continues with an actual proposition of something to do to fix the problem of uninformed voters: a political literacy test.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: I didn’t read The Skiff, so this guy is full of it. I am, unfortunately, completely serious. Jim Crow is alive and well in 21st-century America.

Editor's Note: Jim Crow voting laws were a series of discriminatory practices against African-Americans in the 1800s.  Some of those laws included poll taxes and literacy tests with trick questions in them in an effort to discourage African-Americans from voting.

In order to register to vote, the author suggests that we force citizens to take a “grade school American government quiz.” Now, this seems reasonable in that the content is fairly easy for educated Americans. However, does it really matter how government operates when you choose a candidate?  

When you step into the poll this November, will you be thinking about the branches of government or how long terms are for senators? Of course not. This is just an inane roadblock that would help the author get exactly what she wants: if you don’t agree with me, don’t vote.

Seth Shaffer is a junior music education major from Southlake, Texas.