You are right. The author did propose some competency tests to vote on various issues. For example, we would have one test to prove that someone is going to vote wisely about civil engineering projects to mitigate flood damage and another test to vote wisely on ecological balances in forests. Just because a voter gets voting rights in one area does not mean he gets voting rights in another area.
I have encountered other thinkers that propose a competency test(s) as a means of improving democracy. But these thinkers were much less rigorous in their application than Mr. Lees.
T I am sometimes dumbfounded when I encounter Canadians who don’t know much about their parliaments and judicial systems. It is scary to think they have a vote. here is no doubt that a better education of basic civics would help Canada and the USA. But every time I have tried to concoct some competency rules, I run into the problem of who decides the test to prove competency. I can see the political parties devising this test to their advantage or supposed advantage, which then leads to de-legitimizing the role of government.
I was in Czechoslovakia shortly after communism fell. I met up with a young couple who had put up two years of study to be members of the Communist Party. When they were to be full members, they would have voting rights in the Party. And more career opportunities would be open for them. Only about 5% of the population were members. The other 95% were deemed not educated enough (in the communist way) to be given these responsibilities/privileges. The 95% felt powerless — and we know happened.
To some way, the communist party was a competency test to earn the right to vote and gain authority.
Every time I thought of competency tests to give voter rights, the ramifications eventually me back to the better answer being universal suffrage.
In my TDG, universal suffrage is an important part of the local elections. Voters are asked to vote for someone in their neighborhood who best displays good character and capacity. Each voter defines these two traits anyway they want. If a citizen wants to vote for a neighbor who smokes lots of marijuana, that would be his or her right to vote according that criterion.
But the beauty of this system is everyone gets to vote. No one is excluded because of education, intellect, time resources to be “informed”, political leanings, current morals, a not-so-virtuous past, race, religion, gender, etc.