Americans Demonstrate Massive Ignorance of Citizenship. Nearly Half Don’t Reliably Vote

Two out of three Americans cannot pass the U.S. citizenship test taken by new immigrants. When asked to name just three of the thirteen original states, only 28% of survey respondents could. Nearly 40% of Americans think Benjamin Franklin is famous for inventing the light bulb. One-fourth of Americans do not know that freedom of speech is guaranteed in the First Amendment. Sixty percent of Americans can’t identify which countries we fought in World War II. That is roughly the same percentage of people who do not know there are nine justices on the Supreme Court.”

— Source: Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 2018.

Given this massive ignorance, it is not surprising that about a quarter of eligible Americans, or one out of four, according to a 2012 survey, are not registered to vote.

Of the 75 percent of eligible citizens who are registered to vote, somewhere between 54.2 and 62.3 percent of them actually voted in presidential elections between 2000 and 2012. Voter turnout for midterm elections has fluctuated from 41.9 percent in 2014 to 53.4 percent in 2018.

In 2016, an estimated 55.7 percent of the voting age population voted, down from 58.2 percent in 2008. Before that, one has to go back to the 1960s when more than 60 percent of the voting age population actually voted.

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