North Carolina’s constitution still includes an unenforceable law dated back to the Jim Crow era.
In 1900, a voter literacy test requirement was added to the state’s anatomy to keep many Black citizens from casting ballots. 121 years later, some state lawmakers want to remove the relic off-the-books once and for all. A reminder of the fractured past still written in the background of some laws in the US.
The section says anyone attempting to register to vote must “be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language.”
The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 made literacy tests and similar racially-motivated measures illegal nationwide.
Five years later, North Carolina voters weren’t willing to give up the language by defeating an amendment to remove that portion from the constitution. The House judiciary committee hopes a bipartisan measure will allow voters to decide next year whether to eliminate that section of the constitution.
Three-fifths of the House and the Senate members must agree to such a referendum.