Protection of Voting Rights

April 18, 1962

Report Outline
Two-Front Attack on Voting Barriers
Progressive Liberalization of Franchise
Federal Action to Guard Voting Rights
Residence Requirements for Voting

Two-Front Attack on Voting Barriers

Efforts to eliminate a high barrier to voting by Negroes in the South are expected to precipitate the first prolonged filibuster in the present session of Congress. Shortly after the Senate returns from its Easter recess, a motion will be made to take up a bill, introduced by Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D Mont.) and co-sponsored by Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R III.), aimed to deprive southern states and communities of their most effective means of restricting exercise of the franehise by Negroes. It would do so by providing that any person who had completed the sixth grade in primary school, and was otherwise qualified by law, could not be denied the right to vote through the device of a literacy test.

Southern senators have left no doubt that they will apply their considerable skill at filibustering to try to talk this bill to death. The Senate on March 27 approved and sent to the House a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to outlaw payment of poll taxes as a prerequisite to voting. The poll tax is no longer regarded as a very serious impediment to voting. A so-called fllibuster on the joint resolution lasted only 10 days. Senators from the South recognized that although the administration endorsed the poll tax amendment, it was saving its full strength for a fight to paas the literacy test bill. It is therefore that measure that will bring forth all the flair for filibustering that southern opponents of civil rights legislation are in the habit of dispiaying whenever an attempt is made to get such a proposal through the Senate.

While this prolonged attempt to block provision of a new legal weapon against discriminatory practices in voter registration is going on in the Senate, five civil rights organizations will be readying plans to launch a coordinated two-year Voter Education Project to increase Negro voter registration throughout the South. According to the federal Commission on Civil Rights, only 30 per cent of southern Negroes of voting age are registered at present, as against 60 per cent of southern whites. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has said that the registration campaign may succeed in doubling the number of Negroes on southern voting rolls. But this goal is likely to prove impossible of achievement unless literacy tests are fairly administered.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Voting Rights
Jun. 25, 2021  Voting Rights
Oct. 02, 2015  Young Voters
Feb. 21, 2014  Voting Controversies
May 18, 2012  Voter Rights
Sep. 15, 2006  Voting Controversies
Oct. 29, 2004  Voting Rights
Feb. 28, 1975  Minority Voting Rights
Apr. 18, 1962  Protection of Voting Rights
Mar. 19, 1958  Right to Vote
Feb. 24, 1954  Eighteen-Year-Old and Soldier Voting
Sep. 13, 1932  The Solid South and Political Sectionalism
Jun. 18, 1928  Voting and Non-Voting in Elections
Domestic Issues
Voting and Suffrage