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Form No. 5
CONSTITUTIONAL TEST FOR REGISTRATION
Applicant shall read to the Registrar of Voters and give a reasonable interpretation of the following clauses of the Constitution:
The Legislature shall provide by law for change of venue in civil and criminal cases (Art. 7 Sec. 45 La. Const.)
The exercise of the police power of the State shall never be abridged (Art. 19 Sec. 18 La. Const.)
Prescription shall not run against the State in any civil matter (Art. 19 Sec. 16 La. Const.)
(The above qualification test and a registration application form provided for by Section 1 (c), Article VIII of the Louisiana Constitution, (Form LR-1), were received by me from the Parish Registrar of Voters upon my request to register, and I have signed both for acknowledgement and identification with my application to register.)
Applicant for Registration
Facsimile of Constitutional Test for Registration of Voters Used in Louisiana.
In instructing the registrars, Mr. Shaw stressed that applicants must be of good character and be able to interpret any clause of the Constitutions of Louisiana or the United States. As a test of intelligence, he advised the registrars to use a set of 24 model cards distributed at the meetings. One of them is reproduced on this page. Mr. Shaw asserted that constitutional interpretations are tests of native intelligence and not of book learning; that experience teaches that most white people have this native intelligence while most Negroes do not. As a further precaution, however, he instructed the registrars not to tell any Negro applicant the number of his ward or precinct, and not to help him fill out his application card.
Senator Rainach himself informed the registrars that "you don't have to discriminate against Negroes" to keep them off registration rolls, because "nature has already discriminated against them." Proclaiming that "a large number of Negroes just can't pass the test for registration," he concluded:
The tests are based on intelligence, not education, and intelligence is something that is bred into people through long generations.
Third, in Washington Parish during May, June, and July of 1959, over 1,300 of approximately 1,500 Negro registrants were stricken from the rolls on the basis of challenges filed by members of the citi
zens council of that parish. Virtually all of the Negroes whose names were removed from the rolls had been challenged by four white residents of Washington Parish. The most common basis for these challenges was alleged errors in spelling on the application forms. Investigation revealed that the challengers themselves misspelled words when filling out the challenging affidavits. For a sample, with names of voter and challengers masked out, see facsimile below.
STATE OF LOUISIANA
AFFIDAVIT IN CASE REGISTRATION
OF VOTER IS CHALLENGED
rashington Curtis by th
Personally came and appeared before me.
(Deputy) Registrar of Voters in and for the Parish of
State of Louisiana.
who being duly sworn, do depose and say:
That they are bona fide registered voters of this parish; that after reasonable investigation by them, and each of them, and on information and belief, that
Municipal number and street, if any)
To whom was issued registration certificate Nɔ.
of this Parish, is illegally registered or has lost his or her right
to vote in the precinct, ward or parish in which they are registered, for the following reasons:
And should be erased from the Official Precinct Register of Ward
Sworn to and subscribed before me, on this
may Custs in them
(Deputy) Registrar of Voters
Facsimile of Affivadit Used for Challenging the Registration of a
Voter in Louisiana.
TABLE 13.-White registration, selected Louisiana parishes using permanent
TABLE 14.-Negro registration, select Louisiana parishes using permanent
TABLE 15.-White registration, Louisiana parishes using periodic registration
CHAPTER VII. FEDERAL POWERS TO PROTECT THE FRANCHISE
"This Constitution and the Laws of the United States which shall
-U.S. Constitution, Article VI (second paragraph).
The events reported in the preceding chapters have convinced this Commission that qualified American citizens are, because of their race or color, being denied their right to vote. The question is: "What can the Government of the United States do about these clear violations of its fundamental law?"
The initial power of the States to determine voting qualifications is unquestioned. But it is not unlimited. The powers of the Federal Government to protect the franchise derive from certain provisions of the Constitution, as implemented by the Congress and interpreted by the Supreme Court. Together, these form the Federal ground rules within which the States may grant or withhold the franchise. In summary, these constitutional provisions declare that
(1) all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, regardless of race, are citizens; 1
(2) these citizens shall not be denied their voting rights because of race, color, or sex; 2
(3) those persons voting for U.S. Senators and Representatives shall possess the same qualifications as those entitled to vote for members of the most numerous branch of the State legislature; (4) Congress is empowered to enforce these provisions by appropriate legislation.*
Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of
Article I, section 2, thus provides that electors for Members of Congress shall have qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature. This is the basic source of every
1 Fourteenth Amendment, sec. 1.
2 Fifteenth Amendment, sec. 1; Nineteenth Amendment.
Art. I, sec. 2, and Seventeenth Amendment.
Fifteenth Amendment, sec. 2.
A similar provision regarding qualifications for electors for senatorial candidates is found in the Seventeenth Amendment.