A political tactic that was once used to further skew the imbalance of power in America was the literacy tests that predominantly Black voters were forced to take to “prove” how American they were. In actuality, they were mostly arbitrary riddles that were meant to be extremely difficult and nearly impossible to answer correctly.
Although literacy tests were banned in the U.S. years ago, it appears they’ve evolved and appeared once again in the current election cycle. A South Asian couple in North Carolina was recently forced to live out the experience while voting in the primary election.
Rudy Ravindra, of Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote about his trying experience with the state voter ID law for the Raleigh News and Observer. In his personal account, Ravindra recollects how a poll worker referred to as “HW” took his ID, held it face down and asked him to spell out his name. Instead of just looking at the ID, the poll worker chose to make a spectacle out of the exchange that should’ve only taken moments while other voters got through the process with relative ease.
Ravindra was then asked to also provide his address, another piece of information that could’ve been easily found on his ID.
“With a tight smile, I gave it,” Ravindra wrote. “Already my blood pressure was quite high, and I knew if this charade continued, I might be tempted to walk out without voting. But luckily the ordeal came to an end, and with a smirk HW declared that I am the perfect voter. I almost told him that he is the perfect so and so. But I bit my tongue, as I was concerned that in these trigger happy days, HW might summon the police to haul me off.”
All of this occurred while Ravindra was trying to vote early. When he accompanied his wife to vote on actual Election Day, the same thing happened to her even though they were at a completely different location and seeing a different poll worker.
“My wife and I couldn’t help but feel that we were singled out,” he said. “The poll workers could have simply looked at our IDs and saved a lot of time. That in a sea of white faces at both polling stations my wife and I were the only brown-skinned individuals also led us to suspect that we were victims of racial prejudice. In these days of Trumpism and shameless xenophobia and other assorted phobias, we can’t be blamed if we are paranoid.”
Ravindra later lodged a formal complaint with the North Carolina State Board of Elections and received a personal call from the director. The director let him know that what he and his wife experienced was an “unnecessary exercise” and “poll workers overstepped their authority.”
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