During an appearance on Fox & Friends on Wednesday, conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested that voting should be harder for the general population, advocating for the administration of literacy tests as a prerequisite for voting.
“There is nothing unconstitutional about literacy tests,” Coulter said during a discussion about poorly informed American voters.
“We have ballots being given in 124 different languages,” she continued. “And I’m pretty sure Senate debates will not be taking place in Urdu. So what are they voting on?”
The problem is not a language barrier. For starters, most English-speaking voters do not have their TiVo’s set to record every Senate debate that airs on C-SPAN. Even if they did, most voters do not have the time to watch hours of debate on issues important to their community, or read the transcript.
So what’s to blame for the high number of uninformed voters?
The problem lies in an American mainstream media — including news outlets not dissimilar to Fox News — that is defined by overly-sensationalized headlines and riddled with partisan attacks that are grounded in little to no substantiation.
We have created a system that incentivizes news sites for the number of page views they receive, forcing them to resort to click-bait if they want to compete for America’s attention and — more importantly — our advertising dollars.
The hyper-partisan trend in American politics has only worsened the partisan divide we see in mass media, allowing Americans to read articles only from news sources that routinely agree with them, reinforcing their point of view — not challenging it.
“The fracturing of the media means many things for how people consume information but one of the most important is that partisans can now read, watch and listen to only news and assorted punditry that agrees with their point of view,” writes Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza.
Is it any wonder that American voters are under educated and overly disenfranchised?
A more informed electorate will not result from the administration of literacy tests, a practice which is synonymous to discrimination.
What we need is a more accountable media.