Historical Voter Registration Materials Bring Context to Show True Intent

Alabama Voter Registration Form, circa 1965


Context is everything.

Much has been done in the name of protecting against voter fraud.  The theory goes that the government has an interest in preventing voter fraud in order to ensure the integrity of elections.

However, there is no evidence that voter fraud actually exists to any tangible degree.  Sure, there are occasional cases of individual voters who take it upon themselves to try to punch the ballot multiple times on behalf of their favored candidates.  But it is practically impossible to rig a national election in the United States through voter fraud, and there is no evidence that anyone has tried to do so.  

To those who fear this imaginary threat, hurdles like strict voter ID requirements can sound awfully reasonable.  But absent that threat, the government has no legitimate interest in restricting citizens' access to the polls.

All those cries you hear of the need to limit access to the polls because of concerns of fraud?  Just a political power play at best, tinged with racism at worst.

For added context and perspective, consider the actual voter registration application used in the state of Alabama in the mid-1960s.  You can access the full form here.  Read it in its entirety, and consider it in the context of the Jim Crow south -- were all those questions truly necessary?  Or is it possible that election officials were trying to make it harder for a certain segment of the population to register?  Consider who may have drafted it, and why.  In the context of the time, around the passage of the Voting Rights Act, might this have been a tool to circumvent newly granted voting rights?  Consider how much it may have detracted from -- rather than added to -- the integrity of this nation's elections.  

Then consider all the newfound calls for restricting access to the polls, despite the lack of demonstrated need for greater restrictions.  Is it possible that those who lead the call for protection may have other motives?

And consider how those calls to suppress the vote will be viewed in their own historical context.

Context is everything.

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