Alabama Voter Application Form (c. 1965)

See also Alabama Voter Literacy Test (c. 1965)

See also How it Worked in Alabama for a description of the typical Alabama voter-registration process prior passage of the Voting Rights Act.

What's missing from this form? It's hard to imagine that anything could be missing from a voter registration application that is four pages long — but something important is missing. If you examine the form carefully, you'll notice that there is no way to state your party affiliation. You can't register as a Democrat, Republican, or independent. This omission was not an oversight, it was a deliberate tactic on the part of the white establishment to prevent Blacks from participating in the Democratic primary election as voters or candidates.

This is the era of the "solid South," Blacks are denied the right to vote and only white Democrats are elected. The white establishment, and most white voters, still hate Republicans as the "party of Lincoln" (today, some southern whites hate the Democrats as the "party of civil rights," though they don't admit it publicly). With Republican candidates un-electable, the vote that really matters is the Democratic primary. If there is no Republican or independent candidate (often the case in local elections), the winner of the Democratic primary simply assumes office. If there is a challenger from another party, the Democratic candidate always wins in the general election. Since there is no way to register as a Democrat, the party officials in each county get to determine who is a member of the party and therefore who is eligible to run for office and vote in the party primaries. They are determined to keep the primary for "whites only." This means that Blacks who somehow manage to become registered voters are still barred from the election that really counts.

 — © Bruce Hartford

Copyright ©
(Labor donated)