The 1890s: Voting Rights
Although African Americans were legally allowed to vote by 1870, their abilities to vote often were hampered by whites who believed that only educated people who owned a substantial amount of property should be able to exercise the privilege of voting. To restrict African Americans from voting, white officials often established polling places far from African American communities. The roads and bridges to the polling places often were blocked on election day, or the polling place was changed at the last minute without informing African American voters. If these tactics failed, stuffing ballot boxes or miscounting cast ballots also was common. Senator Gaines and Representatives Geiger, Patton, and Sneed opposed poll taxes that were imposed by the Legislature because poor African Americans and whites could not afford to cast their votes. Reading and comprehension tests, complicated ballots, or voter exclusion based on previous convictions of bribery, burglary, theft, or murder also were used.