Court Upholds Voter Literacy Tests

1959

In Lassiter v. Northampton County Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds North Carolina’s requirement that all voters pass a literacy test to be qualified to vote. Finding that the rule is consistent with the 14th, 15th and 17th Amendments, the Court rules that the states have long been held to have broad powers to determine the conditions under which voting rights may be exercised.

Although the Court notes that state standards cannot be discriminatory or go against any restriction that Congress has imposed, it finds that states may reasonably impose requirements based on residence, age, and criminal record. Similarly, the Court holds, a state may consider the ability to read and write in determining the qualifications of voters.