To me it seems only logical to expect in the information era some duties behind the rights to vote and being voted for, such as having a minimum of education, regardless whether you were given the chance to perceive it or not, also regardless whether being more educated makes you vote better or not. Call me meritocrat, but when it comes to a countries' future it's better to be on the safe side. Fundamentally you do not expect or want unqualified people running important companies, so why should that be fundamentally possible when it comes to a government? It also needs the best administration possible, specially nowadays.

Companies and even politicians themselves ask for a college degree to job applicants because a person that holds one have a minimum analytical mind and level of knowledge, or at least the chances of that person having those qualities are greater, which serves as a guarantee to give that person a job opportunity. In my opinion this model should be extended to politics somehow.


2 Answers 2


The problem with a voting right only for educated people is that education usually correlates with wealth, and wealthy people usually have very different political interests than poor people.

When everyone has the same vote, politicians need to keep everyone happy to maximize the number of votes cast in their favor. But when only rich people are allowed to vote, then politicians have no motivation at all to improve the living standards of the poor people through measures like social welfare, free health care, affordable housing, basic infrastructure in poor regions etc.

Public spending on education would suffer especially, because you now created an incentive for politicians to only build schools in those regions where they are liked and keep those regions where they are unpopular largely uneducated so nobody there gains the right to vote against them.

Even worse, you now created an incentive to make the education system far more politically indoctrinating, because only those who pass it get voting rights. Expect parties to focus all their campaigning efforts on educational facilities, people to get expelled from schools for having the wrong political opinion and people getting degrees they don't actually qualify for because they are party members. So you might actually get the opposite effect and get voters which are even more loyal to the current government.

If your goal is to have voters which make better decisions regarding who to vote for, a better solution might be to provide better political education and well-balanced information to people to enable them to do so.

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    It's not like education has improved a lot in the poorest regions of US and Brazil since voting became an universal right. May 10, 2016 at 16:41
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    Also in the case of Brazil, the fact that people are obligated to vote brings a huge number of unprepared politicians to power, creating a vicious loop of bad educated politicians not interested to invest in the country's education May 10, 2016 at 16:43
  • It also might be the case that the US keeps less wealth people and hence less educated people away from politics by having only two major parties both without major socialist ideals. In latin america the poor people vote precisely for socialist parties. May 10, 2016 at 17:49
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    @yurihbss in the US the poor vote for democrats. They are, for all intents and purposes, socialist leaning (and because of the federalist system they're free to be so to varying extents in different regions.). May 10, 2016 at 20:25
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    @hownowbrowncow - but of course, low income voters are less likely to vote for several reasons (so Republicans try to restrict their vote, by forcing long waits in line is one of them). There is whole polling industry to distinguish "eligible" and "likely" voters. Gerrymandering voting districts is another way (done by both parties, because no party would disarm unilaterally). Fair vote is hard, because "Country first" should mean "Country over party". Which conflicts with a goal to help your own party to win. See last Senate elections in Alabama, Roy Moore. Dec 26, 2017 at 18:00

If the goal is to have the most competent government, then a general franchise might not be the optimum way. But consider the problems with the natural extension of this. You remove the least intelligent of voters. Now you have a new group. Remove the least intelligent of that group. If you keep repeating, you eventually end with a dictatorship by the most intelligent person in the world. Perhaps that's great if the dictator shares your values, but it's not so good when she or he doesn't.

Note the theoretical advantages of a monarchy. The ruler can be trained from birth to rule, receiving the best possible education. Why would anyone want to replace this perfect education with a democracy? Yet country after country did so.

You might argue that you can retain the franchise with a minimum number of people. But the same problem applies. The small group's goals and values don't necessarily reflect those of the larger population. With larger groups the competence advantage is minimal. With smaller groups the divergence of goals and values is greater.

A democracy with a general franchise has two major advantages over other forms of government: legitimacy and peaceful transfers of power. In a monarchy or dictatorship, power is mostly transferred by the death of the leader. In a democracy, power is transferred regularly and peacefully.

In a dictatorship or an oligarchy, legitimacy would be checked by the dictator or the members of the oligarchy. Unsurprisingly they tend to find themselves legitimate, even when their goals and values diverge from the larger population. In a democracy, legitimacy is checked and established regularly. If the larger population differs with the current representatives, then they can replace those representatives. As a result, it is less common for democracies to be overthrown.

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    slippery slope fallacy. May 10, 2016 at 20:24
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    Or demonstrating absurdity by taking the illustration to absurd lengths? While I pointed out the slippery slope, I didn't rely on it. Either this has minimal effect (almost everyone retains the franchise) or it has a distorting effect (the small group diverges from the larger). In the first case, why bother? In the second, it's increasing the risk of violent overthrow.
    – Brythan
    May 10, 2016 at 20:33

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