Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, May 01, 1878, Page 386, Image 14

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Limitations to sufkkaok.
Vol, vii,
A -)
against it. Then acknowledging tliut the
time is to comu whon tliis restriction will
be removed, let us see if any limitations
should be placed upon the ballot and of
what nature these sliould be. Of course
no one will be oO absurd as to suppose,
when I say equal sullrage for all, that I
mean this absolutely ; for that would in.
elude every human being. There must
be some distinct line drawn between
youth and maturity; for voters should, un
doubtely, be suflleienlly matured and, I
was going to say, intelligent before the
ballot is placed in their hands. Neither
will I omit this word intelligent, for it is
exactly what I am aiming at. Every per
son should possess the requisite intelli
gence to vote understandingly, and the
law sliould enforce some such provision.
"When the stability of our government
depends upon the intelligence of the vo
ters and we allow a person to deposit a
ballot, when he could not, to save his life,
make out a single word or letter on his
ticket, it is the height of absurdity. It
would be just as reasonable to give the
ballot to the infant, for what else is such
a person in most cases but an infant in
intelligence, and in this case physical
strength has no efl'ect. By so doing we
say that an inequality is an equality.
How absurd this would appear in Geom
etry! yet, really, is it not just as absurd
in politics? Instead of elevating the ig
norant, we are degrading the intelligent.
It is giving a prize to the ignorance. If
a person has not the patriotism, say noth
ing of the common sense, to learn to read
and reason or to have his children do
the same suflleienlly to think for himself
in politics, he has no right whatever to cast
a ballot. The ragged street urchins of
our cities have an equal right, and the in
telligent youth of both sexes, before reach
ing maturity, have a far better right.
There are thousands to-day, in this conn
try, who ate annually casting their votes
for a glass of liquor too ignorant to read
and consequently indifferent as to the re
sult. Many ot these arc intelligent
enough to read and reason somewhat,
you say. Admitted. But then they arc
few when compared with the ignorant.
The tendency of education is to eliminate
tliis class, of ignorance to increase it.
We have allowed this system long enough.
It is now time to make some restriction
and save the ballot from the extreme deg
nidation this system is surely bringing
upon it. I would not advise, neither
would it be practicable, to disfranchise
any who are now voters, but make it take
eflcct at some future date, for those who
come in after said date. This would be no
injustice to anyone cither Americans or
foreigners, while on the other hand it
would be doing simple justice to the ma
jority. If this were done, 1 believe that
all agitation of compulsory education
would be silenced. It will be far better to
offer some incentive to the people to gain
an education than to impose a fine or pen
alty upon them for not acquiring it, or rath,
er for not giving their children the requi
site amount. It may be claimed that the
incentive would not be strong enough, but
there are comparatively few Americans
wlio do not possess patriotism enough to
give their children the rudiments of an ed
ucation. This will not apply so well to
foreigners But, in general, before many
years.lo lie unable to vote would be a badge
of disgrace, so clear and unmistakable
that but few would desire to be subject to
its rule. Many feasible plans could be
given for carrying this into effect, but it
is unnecessary to mention them now. It is
not claimed that this plan would immedi
ately cleanse our political machinery or
destroy ignorance; but restrict the bailot
merely by maturity and intelligence, and
the gross elections, which we now so oft
en have, will become fewer and fewer,
and education the corner stone of our
Republic will be more widely diffused
and elevated higher and higher, until ig
norance will be a disgrace and compulso
ry education will be one of the strange
things of the past. P. C. A.