Literacy and Voting

I’m late to this very good ProPublica article about the problems illiterate voters face (boldface mine):

Conservative politicians have long used harsh tactics against voters who can’t read — poor, often Black and Latino Americans who have been failed by the U.S. education system and who conservatives feared would vote for liberal candidates. Some states have required voters who needed help to sign an affidavit explaining why they need assistance; some have prevented voters who couldn’t read from bringing sample ballots to the polls and limited the number of voters that a volunteer could help read a ballot. Time and again, federal courts have struck down such restrictions as illegal and unconstitutional. Inevitably, states just create more.

Over the last two years, the myth of election fraud, supercharged by former President Donald Trump in the wake of his 2020 loss, has fueled a barrage of new restrictions. While they do not all target voters who struggle to read, they make it especially challenging for voters with low literacy skills to get help casting ballots.

The entire article is worth a read, but the key point is these restrictions are by design. It’s not just brtual electoral cynicism: a fair number of proponents of these restrictions, when pressed, will admit that illiterate people just shouldn’t vote because they’re too ignorant to ‘vote wisely.’ Never mind that someone who is illiterate might vote for a candidate they heard (note the verb) precisely so that their kids won’t themselves become literate.

Of course, plenty of literate voters cast ballots for incompetent fools like Republicans Steve King and Louie Gohmert multiple times, so the wisdom of the literate seems a bit thin.

Remember, if voting really didn’t matter, conservatives wouldn’t make it so hard for people to vote.

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