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Take This Impossible 'Literacy' Test That Was Given to Black Voters in 1964

Yasha Wallin

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder overturned Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of changes in voting procedure in jurisdictions that have a history of using a “test or device” to impede enfranchisement. Here is one example of such a test, used in Louisiana in 1964. Designed to put the applicant through mental contortions, the test's questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.

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  • Social Slayer

    This bs test makes me so angry. Its impossible on so many levels. Why would they over turn the Voting Right Act? I'm worried for the next election year.