The concept originated in late nineteenth-century legislation and constitutional amendments passed by a number of U.S. Southern states, which created new literacy and property restrictions on voting, but exempted those whose ancestors (grandfathers) had the right to vote before the Civil War. The intent and effect of such rules was to prevent poor and illiterate African American former slaves and their descendants from voting, but without denying poor and illiterate whites the right to vote.
if someone who couldn't read were to vote, they would end up either failing to fill out the ballot correctly, or would vote for random people and thus, statistically, produce with other illiterate voters a null result.
I also had students take the 10-minute Louisiana Literacy Test, used to prevent African Americans from voting. I write on the chalkboard, "Write backwards, forwards" and "Print the word vote upside down, but in the correct order." Students always respond with dismay, asking, "Why?" I explained that these are the types of questions African Americans were asked on literacy tests as they attempted to vote. By actually taking the test, the students were able to see how hard the state of Louisiana worked to stop the black community from voting.
The thing to do was be prepared - as my grandfather had been when it was demanded that he quote the entire United States Constitution as a test of his fitness to vote. He had confounded them all by passing the test, although they still refused him the ballot . . .
pla: "Democracy doesn't work when people vote because they "should"."
In the United States, the rise of Jacksonian democracy in the 1820s led to a close approximation of universal manhood suffrage among whites being adopted in most states
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