They had flipped to a live stream of the rally. It had been heating up. Counterprotesters—who appeared to outnumber the Epistocrat radicals—were interrupting the rally proceedings with intermittent loud noises, which police were doing their best to suppress.
The present Epistocrat speaker’s hoarse, impassioned voice felt rather mismatched with words that often sounded like legalese. Most of the Epistocrat signs held aloft vilified congressman Vic Green—a prominent antagonist to the Amendment—as a moron or liar. In contrast, the counterprotesters’ signs carried slogans like “Give me back my government!” and “Whither ‘By the People’ ?”
With furrowed brows, Julian West and Senator Eva Florez watched the spectacle for few seconds. Julian muttered, “So they still protest...” Senator Florez merely smiled.
They soon had the gist of what was going on, so Julian continued their conversation. “So, if one more state doesn’t ratify the Amendment by December,” he recited, “it fails, and they’d have to start completely over...”
“So... can I make sure I understand: the Amendment would give extra votes to citizens age 30 and older...”
“But only if they pass a test.”
“And that’s what ‘epistocracy’ is.”
“Yyyyes...” Florez said slowly. “Well, a form of it.”
“And the testing is very controversial... as is the symbolism of the whole thing.”
“Absolutely. Even though we’re projecting ninety percent of them will be able to pass.”
Julian pondered this, and then asked, “Will the tests be that easy?”
This question caught Senator Florez by surprise. “Well,” she began, “there will be some broad principles ‘wired in’ to the design of the test, and it’s not supposed to be easy per se... but... I think you’re probably unaware of—you haven’t experienced the kind of voter education resources that are legally required today. Legally-required to provide, though voters aren’t required to use them. They’re probably so far beyond what I suspect you ever saw... answering anyone’s questions... anyway, it’s more about willingness to learn than about ability.”
Julian looked disturbed. “But you know about the literacy tests we previously had? To keep African-Americans from voting?”
“Of course,” Florez said with a hint of impatience. “But that was different from this—blacks weren’t getting educations, because of systematic discrimination.” She caught herself, and relaxed. Changing the subject, she asserted, “The real issue today is how the vote could potentially be influenced by—do you know what ‘Know The System’ is?”
“Yes. Well, only vaguely.”
“And you also know that Nebraska is the key battleground state? The last hope. It’s the only holdout that they’re projecting still might—”
“Yes, I did hear that.”
“Just a minute,” interrupted Senator Florez, looking at the screen. The cameras had swung over to a scuffle that had stopped the proceedings. A clump of screaming antagonists jabbed fingers towards each other. Julian and Florez watched in horror as the situation suddenly escalated into a slap fight, and the police pushed their way in.