Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Supremes toss out Section 4B of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (illustrations: the Louisiana Literacy test)

By Jack Brummet, Jurisprudence Ed.

In a split decision last week, the Supremes tossed out Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  One key section of the Act mandated that nine states with a history of racial discrimination were required to get federal permission before they could change their voter laws.

Below is an actual “literacy test” given to black voters by the state of Louisiana in the 1960s.  The Voting Rights Act eliminated both poll taxes and literacy tests. You had to take this test if you could not document that you had  passed fifth grade. 
The test had to be completed in 10 minutes, and one wrong answer meant a failing grade. You may notice some of the typos in the test, along with some fairly murky instructions.  Remembering that missing one question would disqualify you from voting, you have to wonder how many voters of any color would pass the test?


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