Are You Barred from the Polls by Obsolete Law?

In 1960, the Post took issue with outdated laws that disenfranchised voters.

People lining up to vote in Hawaii

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In this 1960 editorial, the Post urged states to eliminate stringent residency requirements and other rules that disenfranchised voters.

Our ridiculously outdated state voting laws are responsible for a mass disfranchisement of 13 percent of the nation’s total potential voting force.

When these laws were enacted, many of them a century and more ago, we were a less mobile people, and there was perhaps justification for requiring a person to live within the state for one and even two full years before being eligible to vote — as most states still do. But in these days of frequent job transfers and family moves, such waiting periods are far too long.

Similarly there is no valid reason why an otherwise qualified voter should forfeit his ballot simply because he has the misfortune to be incapacitated or must make an urgent business trip on Election Day. Yet most states have no provisions for balloting in such emergency situations. Help must be extended to those voters who want to do their civic duty and can’t.

—“Are You Barred from the Polls by Obsolete Law?,” Editorial, November 12, 1960

The editorial as it appeared in the magazine
Read “Are You Barred From the Polls by Obsolete Laws” from the November 12, 1960, issue of the Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

This article is featured in the November/October 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Constatin Alajalov / SEPS

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