Kacer’s Biblical Politics: Who Should Be Allowed To Vote?
A serious question
If you do internet searches on biblical qualifications to
vote, there’s a lot on “how” to vote biblically, but not “who” should be
allowed to vote. Since representative government based on the direct,
informed vote of the people was not commonplace in biblical times, does the
Bible have any insight into the question of “who” as opposed to “how”?
Who can vote today?
Although “voting rights” has a checkered history in the
United States, the current qualifications include: being at least 18 years
old, a citizen with residency established, not in prison (or on parole) for
the conviction of a felony (varies by state), and not currently found
mentally incompetent by a court.
That there are no voting restrictions based on race or
gender shouldn’t be a surprise, since it reflects the triumph of scriptural
truths countering mankind’s sinful nature (see Jeremiah 17:9) which
degrades and marginalizes anyone seen as inferior. What are those truths?
Scripture says that everyone was created in the image of God with the same
intrinsic value (see Genesis 1:27); but we’re also accountable to that same
God for how we deal with each other (see Romans 2:6-7). This great biblical
leveling also removes wealth, land ownership, social status and degree of
intellectual prowess as discriminators for having voting rights.
These rights are also granted independent of one’s faith;
whether the voter is Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, or
anything else since our nation is based on a Judeo-Christian understanding
of justice founded on God’s Word (see Micah 6:8). That ethic treats
everyone under the law equally, independent of doctrinal beliefs, and is
consistent with the 1st Amendment to our Constitution which
protects religious freedom.
What about age?
There’s a maturing process to leave childhood and become an
adult. Jesus even grew in wisdom as He grew older (see Luke 2:52); and Paul
said when he was a child he spoke, thought and reasoned like a child, but
when he became a man, he gave up childish ways (see 1 Corinthians 13:11).
One marker for adulthood, therefore, is when a person thinks like an adult
and is responsible towards others (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
However, biblically and practically age appears to be the
useful threshold, as opposed to some qualitative measure of maturity. In
the United States, a person must be at least 18 to enter the
military. Willingness to commit one’s life to defend our nation at
such a young age helped justify the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering
the national voting age to 18. But for Old Testament Israel, 20 was the age
God declared that men were mature enough to go to war (see Numbers 1:3)
even though many were not able to do so (see Deuteronomy 20:1-8). Twenty
was also when men: began bringing their own offerings to the Temple (see
Exodus 30:14), were able to oversee the work of the house of the Lord (see
Ezra 3:8), and were accountable (and punishable) for major sins (see
Numbers 14:29-30; 32:11). Even financial vows based on the “valuation”
of a person were higher for a 20-year-old than for children (see Leviticus
27:1-6). If age is a reasonable voting discriminator, biblical “adulthood”
at 20 years of age appears far more prudent than 18, with any attempt to
lower it even further (i.e. 17 or 16) appearing unwarranted and
What about citizenship?
To protect foreigners, God required Old Testament Israel to
apply civil laws equally to the native born and the alien (see Exodus
12:49; Leviticus 18:26; 24:22, Numbers 15:15-16). However, Israel had
several obligations that applied to those born to their own people that
didn’t apply to foreigners. The most precious had to do with national
remembrance (see Exodus 12:1-28) and recognition of the transcendent God
(see Ezekiel 44:6-7). When foreigners formally committed to Israel’s
prevalent core values and beliefs, they could fully participate in these
obligations as if they were natural born citizens (see Exodus 12:48; 1
Kings 8:41-43); but this was a serious commitment!
The same general principle applies today. To participate in
the direct governing of our nation, a foreigner must show a commitment to
our values and fidelity to what our nation represents, with citizenship
being the qualifier. Therefore, to casually allow non-citizens to vote either
through fraud, incompetence, or unaccountable voter registration processes
(i.e. without valid identification, or with the use of driver’s license
applications) is trivializing a high privilege and duty and creating
opportunities for abuse.
What about felons?
Jeremiah’s letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon summarizes
the duty one has to the nation they live in: “seek the welfare of the city
where I have sent you … for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (see
Jeremiah 29:7). Those who steal or harm have a callous disregard for
others, and are rejecting their responsibility to be a blessing instead of
a curse to the community. As a result, society has decided that serious
criminal acts (felonies) deserve severe punishment, generally with the temporary
revocation of voting privileges. This appears just, since it
recognizes a level of irresponsibility that is inconsistent with the
maturity needed to vote on weighty matters of governance. With that said,
biblical mercy is also shown to most felons by giving them the opportunity
for reinstatement of voting rights after they’ve served their time. Whether
that time includes parole or not is a wisdom issue that varies from state
With that said, current attempts to let imprisoned felons
retain their voting privileges sends a wrong message. Felons are imprisoned
because of a profound lack of respect for others and to prevent any further
criminal acts; keeping their voting privilege says they are as responsible
as other citizens to decide on matters of governmental import.
What about the mentally incompetent?
Scripture has little to say concerning the loss of mental
faculties other than the natural decay that comes with old age (see
Ecclesiastes 12:1-7). If one is insane, they’re not competent to rationally
govern themselves and legal action to restrain their activities (including
voting) is appropriate. Let’s be clear, this isn’t the same thing as
believing someone is “crazy” if they have a different opinion or view of
“truth” (see Mark 3:21; John 10:19-20). Unfortunately, through poorly
supervised “ballot harvesting” many individuals that are mentally infirm
(those that are incapable of making independent decisions) can be “helped”
by third parties to fill out their ballot.
This help may be well meaning, but it is also prone to easy
exploitation of the defenseless (see Proverbs 22:22a). After helping
someone to vote, these ballots can then be collected by the third party to
deliver to a polling site. It’s naïve to think this voting approach won’t
be abused by those willing to win at any cost.
Two competing approaches
Elections have consequences, and voting is a major
citizenship responsibility. As expected, both ends of the political
spectrum claim to be concerned about voting integrity, but they differ
radically in how to achieve it.
One side claims: voter fraud is exceedingly rare, sees
attempts to clean up voter registration rolls as trying to disenfranchise
certain voter demographics, believes voter registration should be open to
any who are “contributing” to our nation, wants the voting age to be lowered,
wants voting rights for felons automatically reinstated after release from
prison (or not taken away in the first place), pushes for ballot harvesting
to “help” marginalized people, and wants mail-in ballots to be the norm
everywhere for every election.
The other side wants: trustworthy evidence of identification
and citizenship status before a person is allowed to register and to vote,
“clean” voter registration rolls, direct voter to polling place integrity
without any possible intervention, to deny any opportunity to vote multiple
times, and believes voter fraud is much more common than is being reported.
Given the sinful nature of mankind (see Jeremiah 17:9), the
more numerous the options for voting and the more complicated the
processes, the greater the opportunity for both fraud and error resulting
in legitimate voters being disenfranchised. We know massive voting
confusion is inconsistent with the very nature of God (see 1 Corinthians
14:33), and does not accomplish the noble purposes an informed electorate
wants. Unfortunately, attempts to prevent the manipulation and use of the
uninformed (such as many of the homeless), the incapacitated (the mentally
compromised), and the ineligible (e.g. illegal aliens, felons,
impersonators, non-residents, multiple votes) is often condemned as voter
suppression and thus difficult to implement.
Our biggest election threat
Whether or not complete confidence in the legitimacy of
elections will ever be achieved, there are election influences far more destructive
than any direct voter fraud. The worldview that dominates academia, the
major news media, the entertainment and sports industry, social media
platforms, and much of the political discourse in our nation is a secular,
self-centered, godless, amoral one that is anathema to a biblical
worldview. These influencers are not only powerful, but they actively
denigrate, marginalize, and even prevent any open dialogue with
conservative, biblically-based thought at any level.
The tactics of these influencers shouldn’t be a surprise.
They’re the same as those used in the greatest miscarriage of justice in
human history: the sending of Jesus to the cross! Contrary to all reason
and evidence, Jesus was condemned (voted against) by common people after
being incited by wicked leadership to have Him killed (see Matthew
27:15-23; Mark 15:6-15). In our day, vial, deceptive, false, and
late-breaking claims are destructive to the efficacy of our election
process and emanate from the same source that condemned Jesus (see John
8:43-44). What are our best counter weapons (see 2 Corinthians
10:4-5): to diligently speak truth (see Ephesians 4:25), expose evil for
what it is (see Ephesians 5:11), support godly candidates for office and
vote biblically (see Matthew 5:13-16), pray fervently (see 1 Thessalonians
5:17), and entrust the results to God.
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