NC Poll Workers Forced An Indian Couple To Take Humiliating Spelling Test In Order To Vote

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1910

Rudy Ravindra and his wife experienced a form voter discrimination when they were forced to spell their names verbally before being allowed to vote.

Ravindra and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina. He wrote an op-ed piece in the Raleigh News & Observer about his disgraceful treatment and at the hands of xenophobic local poll workers.

‘I gave my driver’s license to a poll worker, HW. He kept it face down and ordered me to spell my name,” Ravindra explained. “Although I go by Rudy, my legal name is Rudravajhala. In order to save time, I requested HW look at my ID. He barked, ‘You gotta spell it!’ So I took a deep breath and began. ‘R-U-D-‘’

The irony of what Ravindra described as a “spelling test” administered to him by the poll worker, was that it was the worker who had the most difficulty remembering how to spell.

‘He repeated after me and typed each letter,’ Ravindra wrote in the News & Observer. ‘When he typed a B instead of a D, I had to correct him, ‘It’s not B; it’s D for dog.”

‘This farce went on a for a while, and each time he made a mistake, I patiently corrected. Meanwhile, voters in adjacent lines came and went briskly. I heaved a sigh of relief when HW finally entered my mouthful of a name into his computer and peered at the monitor. And then I had to pronounce it, and when he tried, he couldn’t get it right.’

Finally, the poll worker asked for Ravindra’s address and soon after he was granted the “privilege” of exercising his constitutional right to vote. Ravindra said he didn’t want to tell the poll worker off because he was worried they “might summon the police to haul me off.”

On election day, Ravindra returned to the polls with his wife so that she could vote, but this time at a different polling station with a different poll worker. Shockingly, the worker proceeded to treat his wife in the same disrespectful manner as he was treated.

“Keeping her ID face down, he asked her to spell her name and pronounce it,” Ravindra wrote.

He watched as was the case in his prior voting experience, white voters seemed to breeze in and out of the polling station while he and his wife had to endure extra scrutiny.

 Ravindra added: “My wife and I couldn’t help but feel that we were singled out. 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.”

After they both finished voting Ravindra and his wife contacted the state Board of Elections and lodged a complaint. The director offered the couple his apology and confirmed that the poll workers should have only had to look at the photo ID and that there was no need for him to spell out his name.

Literacy tests are an unfortunate part of American history; often they were used to suppress the votes of certain minority groups. Today Republicans wish to bring back literacy tests to disenfranchise minority groups who don’t traditionally vote for their party. Here’s a YouTube video tea party author Ann Coulter explaining why Republicans should bring back literacy tests.

It would appear that Ann Coulter may have a few fans in working in the polling stations of North Carolina

Featured image via Flickr under this creative commons license.