I have been pondering Bookends' suggetion on the link, which proposes that people are made to sit a test of comprehension about the topic upon which they vote before being given a vote. On the face of it, this sounds extremely reasonable. I can understand the counter-argument, however, sigh. Even though
people may be voting from a position of ignorance, distorted or incorrect perception, be relying upon misinformation, or even be unable to comprehend what they are doing, they should nevertheless be given a vote. They may be horrible, misguided malicious or demented of course, but that's a different issue since it relates to motive rather than comprehension.
Repression arising from the precedent of the Jim Crow laws set up in the Southern USA demonstrates that denying poorly-educated people and people of low-literacy is highly undesirable. There is always a chance that low -literacy under-educated souls may be correct in their views and the better-educated and those more able to think and to apply reason may be incorrect. They, the lower-educated citizens, do, at least, care enough to make the effort to turn out and vote at the ballot.
So could we not however look at it from a slightly more meta-level, at the level of primary legislation?
I'm thinking of Brexit here. It now seems that only a very few members of parliament are satisfied with the current impasse where people with entrenched views are giving the opposition any credibility for comprehension of the topic. So I propose a sit-down, multiple choice test to sort out people who are entitled to vote on Brexit from those who aren't, for Members of Parliament. This selction test would be comprehension-based.
So who would decide which answers were right or wrong? Well here's the clever bit.
Set up a government select committee to decide the questions. The only questions which would be allowed on the multiple-choice test would be those upon which the select committee were unanimously agreed as to the correct answers. The Select Committee would be requested to base most of the questions upon points based upon established understanding rather than opinion
Ok they would probably therefore be very straightforward and prosaic questions but some of them could be fairly searching, e.g. regarding some of the legal points relating to consequences of reintroducing the hard border in Ireland, or questions regarding the understanding of who currently legislates for environmental control of potentially harmful chemical substances and preparations, whether or not the EC has passed legislation to eliminate bent bananas, whether the European Parliament is a democratically elected institution etc, etc: that type of thing. They should also steer clear of questions requiring the recollection of proper names such as 'Jean-Claude Junkers' as answers for example since these names will in time change so let's let them off with that.
The Select Committee would need to meet in camera to select the multiple-choice questions and answers, in order to reduce the potential for leakage of the answers. The multiple-choice exam would then be held immediately after the session and would need to be invigilated in order to prevent plagiarism between MPs sitting the test.
MPs personal multiple choice answer scores would of course then be released into the domain of publicly accessible information.
I'd suggest that the questions put to the Select Committee as candidates for inclusion could be proposed by members of carefully chosen of academic institutions. I'd personally like to keep the activity of proposing the questions and answers out of the Private Sector, but it doesn't really matter because if the selected institutions provide questions and answers which are flaky and unreliable, such questions would not have a chance of making it through the Select Committee round anyway.
There's lots of time to carry out this exercise before October 31st. Come on Boris, do the right thing.
I'm now bending my mind to decide how a meta-question process similar to this could also in a sutably modified form be used to decide the wording on the voe to be put to the electorate in the event of yet another referendum.