Monday, April 17, 2006

Why this election will violate blacks' right to vote.

Louisiana Weekly .:
"If a voter applicant living in New Orleans has reading problems, they can register in person at the Registrars office and an election official will assist them in reading and filling out the application. In contrast, a voter applicant living outside the city must fill out the Mail Voter Registration Application form without the benefit of any assistance from election officials. The registration form has 19 separate instructions and includes the following language (my emphasis added):

AFFIRMATION: 'that I am currently not under a judgment of full interdiction or limited interdiction where my right to vote has been suspended, that I am a bona fide resident of this state or parish...If I have provided false information, I may be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 ($2,500 for subsequent offense) or imprisonment for not more than 1 year (5 years for subsequent offense), or both. Any false statement may constitute perjury.'

The vocabulary in this excerpt, which includes Latin as well as English, would challenge most college educated readers. I had to find an attorney to explain to me what 'full or limited interdiction' means. Yet the applicant, who could be as young as 17 years old, is asked to sign the 'affirmation' at the risk of fine and imprisonment. Elsewhere on the application, the 40% of the New Orleans residents who lack the reading skills to find an intersection on a map are asked:

'If you use a rural route or and box number, draw a map in the space labeled 'Give Location.' Write the names of the crossroads (streets) nearest where you live. Draw an X to show where you live. Use a dot to show any schools, churches, stores or landmarks near where you live and write the name of the landmark.'

Good luck. Like most voters, I'd rather wait in line at the Registrars office than have to decipher this form and risk a stretch in the Orleans Parish Prison."

No comments: