Registering to Vote
(Text of Notice)
What's missing from this form? It's hard to imagine that anything could be missing from a voter registration application that is four pages long — but something important is missing. If you examine the form carefully, you'll notice that there is no way to state your party affiliation. You can't register as a Democrat, Republican, or independent. This omission was not an oversight, it was a deliberate tactic on the part of the white establishment to prevent Blacks from participating in the Democratic primary election as voters or candidates.
This was the era of the "solid South," because with Blacks denied the right to vote, only Democrats were ever elected (at that time the white establishment still hated Republicans as the "party of Lincoln"). Since the Democratic candidate always won in the general balloting, the election that really mattered was the party primary. Since there was no way to register on the voter application form as a Democrat, the party officials in each county determined who was a member of the party and who was eligible to vote in the party primaries — and they were determined to keep the Democratic primary for "whites only." That meant that Blacks who somehow managed to become registered voters were still barred from voting or running for office in the most important local elections.
If you are using Acrobat version 5.0 or later, you will see little yellow post-it type notes (similar to the one at the right) on the application. Double-click on them to view background information and commentary about the Application Form questions.]
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