The "Are You Qualifed to Vote?" test - Civics questions

Those who choose our representatives in government should understand something about government. A knowledge of civics is essential to being an informed voter.

1. The nature of our legislature, with one house apportioned by population, and the other house apportioned by state, is a result of a compromise at our constitutional convention between:

  • a. Loyalists and Patriots
  • b. Democrats and Republicans
  • c. Tories and Whigs
  • d. Large and Small states
  • e. Slave states and Free state

2. If there is a tie vote in the Senate a tie breaker vote is cast by:

  • a. the Vice President
  • b. the President Pro Temp
  • c. the Speaker of the House
  • d. the Senate Majority Leader
  • e. the Secretary of State

3. The largest expenditure in the current federal budget is for:·

  • a. Foreign Aid·
  • b. Military Spending·
  • c. Social Security·
  • d. Welfare·
  • e. Education

4. In terms of the total federal taxes paid which of the following is true:·

  • a. The bottom 50% of earners pay the same as the top 10%·
  • b. The bottom 50% pay slightly less than the top 10%·
  • c.  The bottom 50% pay slightly more than the top 10%·
  • d. The bottom 50% pay much more than the top 10%·
  • e. The bottom 50% pay much less than the top 10%

5. Which amendment extends the constitutions restrictions on the federal government to the states?·

  • a. the Second·
  • b. the 14th·
  • c. the 25th·
  • d. the First·
  • e. the Fifth.

I think these questions are fair and clearly worded. What do you think?


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Questions 3 & 4

FWIW, there's not a clear answer to this question. Or, at the very least, the question itself is ambiguous. In the 2008 budget, Social Security is the largest expenditure. But that is largely because much of the cost of the Iraq war is funded through supplemental appropriations. Social Security will probably still constitute the largest outlay, but it will probably be a fairly close call.
Question #4 is also pretty ambiguous. It introduces a normative component into what is, presumably, a factual question. "Much more" is really a matter of interpretation, no? Even if the top 10% pay, say, 10 times more than the bottom 50%, a committed socialist might well still say that it's not significantly more. Similarly, if the top 10% paid just 2 times more, a committed libertarian might say that the top 10% pay significantly more. (Just to prevent the hostile replies: I would go with e, but that's because I share a lot of the same values as most of the other folks on this site. I'm just pointing out that someone with very different values might give a very different response.)
Besides, this sort of thing is ultimately pretty hard to determine. Who really pays corporate income and payroll taxes? One argument is that workers pay it in the form of lower wages. If that's the case, then those numbers should count toward what the bottom 50% pay. But it could also be the case that shareholders really pay those taxes, in which case those number should mainly toward the top 10%. Or it could be that consumers pay them, in which case we'd have to figure out who does the bulk of the consuming. I suspect that would tilt things in favor of the 50% again.
You might modify the question by asking about income taxes. Or you might ask about income and payroll taxes combined. But "all federal taxes" is hard to really figure accurately.


Good points, I will modify the questions.