Last week, former GOP House Speaker and current presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that American citizens should have to pass a test in American history before they could earn the right to vote. Despite rampant criticism from both sides of the aisle, Gingrich reiterated his support for poll tests yesterday at a town hall meeting in Marshalltown, IA.
Speaking in front of a crowd made up largely of senior citizens, Gingrich reiterated his argument that since immigrants need to pass a test to become American citizens, “young Americans” should be forced to do the same “before they start voting.” A majority of the crowd seemed to approve, giving Gingrich resounding applause.
GINGRICH: [Immigrants] need to pass a test of American history. And candidly, it wouldn’t be bad to have a test like that for young Americans before they start voting.
Gingrich didn’t elaborate on the definition of “young Americans” or at what age a citizen becomes acceptable to vote without passing a test. But his comments reflect a general lack of knowledge in numerous areas — including the education system, the citizenship process, and Americans’ struggles with civics.
An 18-year-old who is eligible to vote for the first time, for instance, is likely still in a high school where he or she took at least one American history class, as required by education curricula across the country. Most students take multiple American history classes throughout their educational careers.