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the General Assembly may prescribe a property qualification not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars for voters in any county or subdivision thereof, or city or town, as a prerequisite for voting in any election for officers, other than the members of the General Assembly, to be wholly elected by the voters of such county or subdivision thereof, or city, or town; such action, if taken, shall be had upon the initiative of a representative in the General Assembly of the county, city or town affected; ... the General Assembly may make such exemptions from the operation of said property qualification as shall not be in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.
85. Payment of Poll Tax.
The constitutions of ten states contain the requirement that in order to vote a person must have paid a poli tax.' In two others? the legislature may make the payment of a capitation tax a prerequisite of voting, but in one of these it must not be required of soldiers and sailors. In Massachusetts, whose constitution does not require the prerequisite of poll-tax payment, non-payment must in no event deny the vote to honorably discharged war veterans of the United States army or navy.? There exist various other exceptions, relating chiefly to age and physical disabilities.
86. Alternative Qualifications.
As a means of preventing the operation of restrictive clauses in the cases of certain classes of voters who might be disfranchised by them, several constitutional conventions have devised alternative provisions whereby persons otherwise liable to be disqualified by means of educational, property or other tests, may nevertheless retain the ballot. In the north, where such provisions exist at all, they were usually intended to save certain native-born persons from disfranchisement through antiimmigrant clauses; in the south, from disfranchisement through anti-negro clauses. Thus
in Virginia there was a general registration in 1902 and 1903, at which all male citizens of the United States having proper qualifications of age and residence could register if they were either, first, a person who, prior to the adoption of this Constitution, served in time of war in the Army or Navy of the United States or of the Confederate States or of any state of the United States or of the Confederate States; or, second,
'Ala., VIII, 178, 194; Ark., Amend. IX; LA., 198; Miss., XII, 243; N. C., VI, 4; R. I., Amend. VII, 2; S. C., II, 4; Tenn., IV, 1 ; Tex., VI, 2; Va., II, 18, 20, 22, 38.
1Fla., VI, 8; Nev., II, 7.
a son of any such person; or third, a person who owns property upon which, for the year next preceding that in which he offers to register, State taxes aggregating at least one dollar have been paid; or fourth, a person able to read any section of the State Constitution and give a reasonable explanation of the same, or, if unable to read such section, able to understand and give a reasonable explanation thereof when read to him by the officers. A roll containing the names of all persons thus registered was to be preserved, and persons so enrolled need not register again.
The Virginia suffrage provisions afford a typical illustra-87. tion of the so-called "grandfather clause.” This name is applied "Grandfather to those exemptions from certain restrictions upon voting which are made (1) in favor of persons who have reached a certain age at or prior to the time the restrictive law goes into effect and (2) in favor of specified classes of persons-usually war veterans or persons who could vote at some fixed date in the past-and descendants of such persons.*
Thus California exempts from its educational test persons having the right to vote when the amendment was adopted in 1911 or persons sixty years of age at the time. Alabama and Georgia, like Virginia, make their exemption applicable to war veterans and their lawful descendants. Louisiana, North Carolina and Oklahoma exempt persons who could vote at some date prior to the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States and their lineal descendants." The Oklahoma clause, providing that
no person shall be registered as an elector... unless he be able to read and write any section of the constitution of ... Oklahoma ; but no person who was, on January 1, 1866, or at any time prior thereto, entitled to vote under any form of government, or who at that time resided in some foreign nation, and no lineal descendant of such person, shall be denied the right to register and vote because of his inability to so read and write sections of such constitution,
sStimson, Federal and state Constitutions of the United States, p. 225. Const. of Va., 19.
Such clauses are found in the constitutions of Ala. (VIII. 180) ; Cal. (II, 1); Ga. (II, sec. 2, par. 4); ni. (VII, 1); La (197, sec. 5; 198); Me. (29th Amend.): Mass. (Amend. XX): N. C. (VI. 4); Okla. (1910 Amend.); Va, (II. 19) ; Wash. (VI, 1). Also, by statute, in N. H.' (Public Statutes, compiled 1901, pp. 136-7). See, also, S. C., II, 4.
'Va., son only.
Proclaimed March 30, 1870. "La., son or grandson only. $1910 amendment to Art. III.
came before the Supreme Court of the United States for review in the case of Guinn versus the United States, decided in 1914, and was declared to violate the fifteenth amendment and so to be void. Commenting upon the clause the court, speaking through Chief Justice White, said,
Its opening sentence fixes the literacy standard which is all-inclusive, since it is general in its expression and contains no word of discrimination on account of race or color or any other reason. This, however, is immediately followed by the provisions creating the standard based upon the condition existing on January 1, 1866, and carving out those coming under that standard from the inclusion in the literacy test which would have controlled them but for the exclusion thus expressly provided for. . . .
It is true it contains no express words of an exclusion from the standard which it establishes of any person on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, prohibited by the 15th Amendment; but the standard itself inherently brings that result into existence since it is based purely upon a period of time before the enactment of the 15th Amendment, and makes that period the controlling and dominant test of the right of suffrage.... We are unable to discover how, unless the prohibitions of the 15th Amendment were considered, the slightest reason was afforded for basing the classification upon a period of time prior to the 15th Amendment. Certainly it cannot be said that there was any particular necromancy in the time named which engendered attributes affecting the qualification to vote which would not exist at another and different period unless the 15th Amendment was in view.
The "grandfather clauses” complete the schemes by which southern states have sought to eliminate as far as possible the negro vote by singling out the peculiar characteristics of the negro race and making of them disqualifications for voting. Such requirements as the ownership of property, payment of poll taxes, an educational test and residence for a considerable time in one place obviously disfranchise more negroes than white
9238 U, S., 347; (59 Lawyers' Ed., 1340). pp. 364-5.
Frequent unsuccessful attempts to have state statutes and constitutional clauses which palpably discriminated against the negro declared void have been made. The court early declared that the fifteenth amendment did not confer any right of suffrage.see U. S. V. Reese, 92 U. S.. 214 (1875)--and it has not been strict in its attitude toward enactments restricting suffrage that on their face, of course, applied equally to persons of all races. In 1874 a case was decided adversely, on similar grounds, in which the plaintiffs sought to maintain that the fifteenth amendment established the right of women to votellinn. V. Happersett, 21 Wall., 162.
men, and this has usually been their object. Whether the Supreme Court will extend its adverse holding so as to include the "grandfather clauses” less obviously devised than that of Oklahoma for the express purpose of contravening the fifteenth amendment, and whether other qualifications intended as a matter of common knowledge to discriminate against the negro will likewise be declared void, is probably a matter of less concern now than it would have been a decade ago. As the races become adjusted to each other in their common citizenship, and as the negro advances in education, controversies over negro suffrage will doubtless gradually disappear.4
TENNESSEE NOTE.-Tennessee was subject prior to statehood to the property qualifications imposed by the North Carolina constitution and later by the Act of Congress governing the Southwest territory, but virtually established manhood suffrage for freemen in the constitution of 1796/subject, of course, to age, sex, residence and citizenship require ments. The constitution of 1834 effectually deprived free negroes of the franchise. The constitution of 1870 confers the suffrage upon male citizens of the United States who have resided a year in the state and six months in the county and have paid the poll taxes assessed against them for such period as the legislature may prescribe. It forbids any other qualification. The 1915 Legislature proposed an amendment granting equal suffrage to women, which, if endorsed by the legislature of 1917 will be submitted to a vote of the existing electorate.
See the interesting statements concerning Mississippi's efforts at disfranchising the negro in Ratliff v. Beale (1896), 74 Miss., 247 ; 20 S., 865. For statistics of the actual effect of the laws intended to limit negro
9 Suffrage, American Political Scien I, 17. Stephenson, op. cit., pp. 322, seq., gives an excellent table showing the suffrage qualifications in each state.
"Art. IV; 1, 5.
For rules governing submission of an amendment see Art. XI, sec. 3. infra, p. 354 ; for text of suffrage amendment, Appendix 4. The Democratic and Republican state conventions of 1916 endorsed equal suffrage a month before the national conventions took such action.
JAMES ROBERTSON, writing to Governor Sevier from Nashville after the gubernatorial election of 1797, said:
I maid known at the opening of the poles, that you ware a candidate for Govener, likewise did Colo. Lewis, some few which had thare tickets wrote did not alter them, and a few that wished to shue thay ware not your Frends, voted for others, not to exceed twenty. we have 1037 voters, in this county. you had 906 in voats. I have not heard from the other Countyes, but perhaps some of them may bave dun as a Number ware like to do heare, and your Frends, that it was unnecessary for all to have your name in as you had no opponant."
88. Early Simplicity
The simplicity of the electoral procedure indicated is illustraSimplicity. tive of the times and of the Tennessee constitution which conComplexity tained no regulations of the conduct of elections, save that they
should be by ballot on specified days and be free and equal.8
As citizens and voters have increased in number and social and political life has become more and more complex, electoral procedure has necessarily undergone much change. Candidates for office can no longer leave their announcements to their friends at the opening of the polls, nor can their supporters depend upon personal knowledge in making a choice. In a constituency of many thousands of voters men cannot, as in neighborhood elections, know how everyone else stood and so know whether the ballots were honestly counted.
In order that the people of large communities may express their will through elections, elaborate machinery must be employed to formulate their desires into clear-cut issues and afford them the means of selecting officials who will be in some measure representative of all. To supply this need political parties
General References : Jones, C. L., Readings on Parties and Elections in the United States : Macy, Jesse. Party Organization and Machinery ; Commons. J. R.. Proportional Representation; Hoag, C. G., Effective Voting; Proportional Representation Review (Quarterly).
"Draper Manuscripts, U, Vol. 5, No. 166.
*Const. 1796, I. 5; III, 3; XI, 5. The votes for governor were to be transmitted to the legislature-II, 2.