Oklahoma Education Qualifications to Vote, State Question 17 (August 1910)

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Oklahoma Initiative 10 appeared on the August 2, 1910 ballot in Oklahoma.

The measure passed, creating a new constitutional amendment. 135,443 voters approved it, and 106,222 voted against it.

It required a literacy test as a qualification for voting, which included a "grandfather clause" that made it apply solely to blacks.

The U.S. Supreme Court (223 U.S. 347) struck down the measure as unconstitutional.

Yet the election had been unfair for another reason as well: racist state officials, instead of printing "yes" and "no" on ballots, printed in small type: "For the amendment." Anyone wishing to vote against it was supposed to scratch out those words with a pencil. If they left their ballot as it was, it was counted as a vote in favor. In some precincts voters were not even provided with pencils. Casting further doubt on the accuracy of the 1910 vote count was a "literacy test" measure placed on the ballot by the legislature in the 1916 primary, six years later: voters rejected it by a 59 percent margin.

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