Ann Coulter’s xenophobic defense of voter suppression: "I'm pretty sure Senate debates will not be taking place in Urdu"

She also claimed that the 1965 Voting Rights Act outlawing civic literacy tests doesn't make them illegal


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Scott Eric Kaufman
April 15, 2015 7:50PM (UTC)

It might have taken until April this year, but this morning "Fox & Friends" produced its annual segment calling for the return of civic literacy tests that the Supreme Court deemed illegal in 1965.

"It's a scary question," co-host Brian Kilmeade said, "how much do voters know about President Obama's accomplishments or the Republican Party candidates?" He then cut to a clip of a Fox News correspondent on the street talking to people who reasonable people would assume know nothing about politics -- and lo and behold, they didn't.

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He claimed the brief clip, "along with a study, proved that Americans are poorly informed about government and politics." Kilmeade wondered whether it was time to return to a version of the literacy test, and turned to conservative provocateur Ann Coulter to see what she thought.

"Does it bother you that your vote counts the same as somebody who does not know what's going on?" he asked.

"More than I can say," she replied, adding that it she had her druthers, it would be "a little more difficult to vote. There’s nothing unconstitutional about literacy tests. Instead, we have ballots being given in 124 different languages. And I’m pretty sure Senate debates will not be taking place in Urdu. So, what are they voting on?"

Coulter insisted that she wouldn't be asking them to answer difficult questions -- "maybe we can just check to see if they can name the vice president before letting them vote" -- and that the easiness of the tests would somehow make them legal.

The other panelist, the Accountability Project's Executive Director Nomiki Konst, interjected that such tests were explicitly outlawed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which states that "no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State[.]"

Konst went on to argue that the real problem was the lack of civic education and declining participation in the electoral process.

Kilmeade and Coulter, however, were not to be deterred. He claimed that the best way to increase civic education would be to require tests for voters, while she argued it's "nonsense" that the a test would violate the VRA because "the truth of the matter is, fake literacy tests were used by Democrats after the Civil War to prevent blacks from voting."

She claimed that voters were asked to name how many jelly beans were in a jar, and that every white Democrat miraculously guessed correctly. When Konst pointed out that such tests are exactly what the VRA banned, Coulter shifted gears and claimed, as she always does, that the Democrats want to allow ignorant voters to participate in the democratic process because doing so hurts the Republicans chances on election day.

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Watch the entire exchange via Media Matters for America below.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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