This House Believes That Voters Should Pass A Political General Knowledge Test Before Being Allowed to Vote


Before going any further, we have an important task to do, i.e. defining the political general knowledge test. Basically we could interpret it as a form of examination that consists of questions regarding to the basic political system (e.g. why we should vote, how vote affects the country, etc.) along with various information of a certain candidate’s campaign. There will be only 2 possible outcomes, which are pass and fail. People who failed the test will not be allowed to exercise their vote, even though they are taxpayers.

Next set-up, is identifying the fault in our democracy system. Geographical limitation should not be necessary, since we are debating in the realm of political system idea, not the practice. For starters, the main element of democracy is the people’s power to make a change favoring majority’s benefits but not dismissing minority’s need. However, to quote from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”, not everyone should be given the power to decide. The reason would lie on how some people are ignorant, irrational, and uninformed. Put it simply, they have no idea what their power is capable of.

Let’s immediately jump into the arguments.

Team Affirmative

Assertion #1: To raise awareness in the problematic status quo.

In the status quo, here is the problematic voters:

  1. Someone pays them to vote for a candidate.
  2. They vote because they ‘think’ the candidate is as good as what they see on the TV, or media without even knowing of the candidate’s policy, value, their past political career, etc.
  3. They are often to become the victim of propagandas.

The current voters’ condition is unfit, because not only does this affect the result of the voting, but it also harms the value of participation. Through this proposal, we could at least reduce the harm. By having the test, it will enforce the election system by encouraging people to think and do further research of who they are going to vote for. Also, it will serve as a reminder or perhaps an enlightenment of  how important and powerful is their vote. Long story short, the awareness to vote will rise.

Knowing that people were paid to vote for a certain candidate has indicated that the democratic election process is jeopardized, because the number of people who would trade off their vote for money is a lot, especially when poverty is considered to be a major issue in the nation. The poor people were exploited to fulfill one party’s interest. What is worse is that when there are more parties involved in exploiting the poor. The battle shifts from glorifying political view to money. Whoever has the most money, has the highest chance to win the battle. And later, though it somewhat sounds rhetoric, there will be a motivation for candidates that win the election to do corruption, for they want to recover the money spent on buying votes. That is bad, and we have to mitigate it by raising the participation rate, together with voters’ awareness.

Assertion #2: To enforce the current democratic election process.

The test is the only way to measure one’s merit, and do not worry, it is not who is getting the highest score. It is not for a competition/ranking purpose. This is just an additional procedure to ensure the safeness from bad practice of democracy. A simple analogy would be, why do we have to have a driving license? It is fairly simple, government may doubt your driving ability, because one’s definition of being able to drive might be different from one to other people. The differences in the parameter might contribute to accidents. Thus, a standardization procedure or goverment’s definition is necessary in order to protect the civilians. The test, which is result-oriented, is a better approach than today’s effort in raising awareness, e.g. socialization. It is better because there is a deterrence effect in it for people to take it seriously. Otherwise, people might lose their right to vote, temporarily until they manage to pass the exam.

Then, the next question would be, why is it so important for people to vote? Well, because our vote represents hope, a positive change in our life.

Assertion #3: We have to ensure that you are voting for yourself.

Too often have we been lied or manipulated by the media or the political campaign. Such phenomenon does not exclusively happen on the financially poor people. Everyone has equal chance to be exposed to the false information. The proposal here is not to doubt your rationality or decision-making ability, but rather to reduce the element of regret.

How often do we often heard our surroundings saying that they regret choosing the candidate they chose? Sounds familiar, huh? It is. It is due to the fact of how dynamic change is affecting our life, that we later become dismissive toward the political situation, which later motivates us to trusting other people’s decision (your inner circle). Hence, you are living the Herd behavior. The regret sensation will occur when a certain policy that is against your belief, is being implemented and hurt certain group. You thought that you could prevent it in the past, yet you did not.

You should exaggerate this scenario even more.

Team Negative

Assertion #1: Status quo is indeed enough.

Whether or not someone votes, with whatever their intention is, we say that it is fully within their rights. Even if they don’t possess the basic political knowledge, the right to vote gives them the feeling of security that they still have role/power in society. Moreover, when you vote for someone even if you don’t know the candidate’s background or policy or principle, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have made a bad choice. Because what counts is that you have exercised your privilege in choosing whoever candidate you want. The fact that someone is willing enough to make a vote means they have put in an effort to make a change. We could not expect or even generalize everyone to share a common knowledge in politics. Not everyone comes from similar background, not to even mention that some people are unable to keep up with government expectations. A quick example would be on the life of the poor people. They may have the intention to contribute their vote. However, with the constraints that they are experiencing, e.g. limited information/knowledge/resources that made them easy to be manipulated, would later just end up in disappointing themselves. For they are living a different life from the other better-welfare family.

When their motive is there, but their access is denied, it will harm the idea of voting even more, for it is discouraging people from voting. Because government do not trust their decision. That way, the idea of participation is not working, because government is being picky and selective only favoring certain group of people. When that happened, you could predict the undesirable outcome, which is loss of trust.

Assertion #2: It creates a division of class.

The main reason why everyone is given the one and only vote is simple. To shows that everyone is equal, with same political power. Once you put on a limit as to who can and cannot vote, the lower class would definitely be harmed as they are the ones who received less education and would most likely not granted the right to vote.

From the social engineering aspect, it would discriminate them more. They will be considered to be inferior or worse, toxic for the nation, for they possess the irrational and incapable traits. At first, their social position is already at disadvantages, due to the lower financial power. And now, their burden will increase, as people put expectation on their test performance. The social gap will be worsening. And we all know what could possibly happen when the degree of suffering from discrimination/inequality exceeds their conscience?

Assertion #3: Test is not enough to be the parameter.

When you are talking about a test, it is as a mean to measure one’s knowledge. But does knowledge equate to a fairer result of the election? In every election, there are always more than one candidates that each of them possess different values and planning. Nothing is absolutely true or false. Everything is subject to one’s hope in acheving the ideal world. Hence, if a certain candidate do things opposite to what they have promised, then the one at fault, is not the voter. In fact, the blame should be on the whole system itself for allowing a hypocrite taking the chance in election. Why should not government do further candidate screening? Sometimes we are just getting too busy in living our life, fulfilling our academic/professional responsibility that we later become ignorant. The ignorance is on the basis that we trusted our political system to at least do the process of screening or filtering the unworthy candidate, so that we would not make a fatal choice.