May 19, 2012

Poll tax

The Farmville Herald has a weekly feature where they print the front page of the paper from exactly 50 years ago. It's fascinating reading—recently we've seen the building of the physical plant for the newly-established white academy (the public schools having been closed to keep the colored kids out), among other things.

Yesterday's, by which I mean Friday, May 18, 1962, has this little blurb in the National News Summary:

The literacy test bill was tabled for the session Tuesday after Senate leaders tried twice unsuccessfully to shut off Southern debate against the measure by cloture. The bill would have substituted completion of the sixth grade for literacy tests as a requirement for voting in federal elections. Civil rights advocates promised another try next year, but the real fight may come at the beginning of the session if they try to change the rule requiring a two-thirds vote for cloture to one requiring a simple majority.

It brings a certain perspective to our current fights over voting access; Virginia just passed a law that requires ID to vote (or more specifically, changed the existing ID-required law to mean that if you don't have ID you have to cast a provisional ballot rather than merely swearing an affidavit that you are a legitimate voter, and then go to the county clerk within a couple days with your ID to convert the provisional into an actual ballot). It considers your voter registration card to be sufficient ID, so I'm not quite as mad at it as I could be, but it's a transparent attempt to make it harder for already-disadvantaged voters to vote.

But at least it's not a literacy test (or, for that matter, a completion-of-sixth-grade test). So, that's something, I guess.

"Commas group and separate meaning. They're the duct tape of written English. No set of rules based on form rather than content can adequately describe their habits and activities." --Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Posted by blahedo at 12:47pm on 19 May 2012
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